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H. T. EILEY, Esq., B.A., 













1. The extreme smalluess of insects ag ^ 

2. Whether insects respire, and whether they have blood .. ..' 3 

3. The bodies of insects 

4. Bees s 

o. The order displayed in the works of bees .. .. '.'. .. [\ fa. 

6. The meaning of the terms commosis, pissoceros, and propolis ! " 6 

7. The meaning of erithace, sandaraca, or cerinthos 7 

8. What flowers are used by the bees in their work .".' .. # 

9. Persons who have made bees their study .... g 

10. The mode in which bees work ," ." 'it 

11. Drones l~ 

12. The qualities of honey \\ \[ \\ " ■.-. 

13. Where the best honey is produced .... [] " 10 
] -4. The kinds of honey peculiar to various places . . ,3 

15. How honey is tested. Ericamm. Tetralix, or sisirum " " 14 

16. The reproduction of bees lfi 

17. The mode of government of the bees .. .. *' \\ lg 

18. Happy omens sometimes afforded by a swarm of 'bees' 19 

19. The various kinds of bees 20 

20. The diseases of bees "" " 21 

21. Things that are noxious to bees .' "" *" " 29 

22. How to keep bees to the hive .....',' 23 

23. Methods of renewing the swarm [ "lb 

2-i. Wasps and hornets: animals which appropriate* what 'belongs 'to 

others ~a 

25. The bombyx of Assyria \\ 95 

f 7 l} e l ™ of the silk-worm— whofirst'invented silk cloths ' " ' ib. 

27. 1 he silk- worm of Cos-how the Coan vestments are made . . 26 
M. bpiders; the kinds that make webs; the materials used by them 
in so domor - 

a -6l±"1 



Chap. Page 

29. The generation of spiders . . 29 

30. Scorpions *• 

31. Thestellio 31 

32. The grasshopper : that it has neither mouth nor outlet for food ib. 

33. The wings of insects •• •• 33 

34. The beetle. The glow-worm. Other kinds of beetles . . . . 33 

35. Locusts 35 

36. Ants 37 

37. The chrysalis 39 

38. Animals which breed in wood . . .. 40 

39. Insects that are parasites of man. Which is the smallest of 

animals ? Animals found in wax even . . _. w. 

40. An animal which has no passage for the evacuations ib. 

41. Moths, cantharides, gnats— an insect which breeds in the snow. . 41 

42. An animal found in fire— the pyrallis, or pyrausta 42 

43. The animal called hemerobion • • ib- 

44. The nature and characteristics of all animals considered limb by 

limb. Those which have tufts and crests 43 

45. The various kinds of horns. Animals in which they are moveable 44 

46. The heads of animals. Those which have none 46 

47. The hair •*• 

48. The bones of the head 4 < 

49. The brain %b - 

50. The ears. Animals which hear without ears or apertures . . . . 48 

51. The face, the forehead, and the eye-brows 49 

52. The eyes— animals which have no eyes, or have only one eye . . ib. 

53. The diversity of the colour of the eyes . . _ 50 

54. The theory of sight —persons who can see by night ib. 

55. The nature of the pupil— eyes which do not shut 52 

56. The hair of the eye-lids ; what animals are without them. 

Animals which can see on one side only 54 

57. Animals which have no eye-lids 55 

58. The cheeks ih - 

59. The nostrils «*■ 

60. The mouth; the lips; the chin; and the jaw-bone 56 

61. The teeth ; the various kinds of teeth ; in what animals they are 

not on both sides of the mouth : animals which have hollow teeth ib. 

62. The teeth of serpents ; their poison. A bird which has teeth . . 57 

63. Wonderful circumstances connected with the teeth 59 

64. How an estimate is formed of the age of animals from their teeth 60 

65. The tongue ; animals which have no tongue. The noise made 

by frogs. The palate 61 

66. The tonsils; the uvula; theepiglossis; the tracheal artery; the gullet 62 

67. The neck ; the throat; the dorsal spine 63 

68. The throat ; the gullet ; the stomach . . 64 

69. The heart ; the blood ; the vital spirit . . ib. 

70. Those animals which have the largest heart, and those which 

have the smallest. What animals have two hearts . . . . 65 

71. When the custom was first adopted of examining the heart in 

the inspection of the entrails 66 


Chap. Page 

72. The lungs : in what animals they are the largest, and in what 

the smallest. Animals which have nothing hut lungs in the 
interior of the hody. Causes which produce extraordinary 
swiftness in animals , . . . 67 

73. The liver ; in what animals, and in what part there are two 

livers found ib. 

74. The gall ; where situate, and in what animals it is double. Ani- 

mals which have no gall, and others in which it is not situate 

in the liver 68 

75. The properties of the gall 69 

76. In what animals the liver increases and decreases with the moon. 

Observations on the aruspices relative thereto, and remarkable 
prodigies 70 

77. The diaphragm. The nature of laughter ib. 

78. The belly : animals wbich have no belly. Which are the only 

animals that vomit 71 

79. The small guts, the front intestines, the anus, the colon. The 

causes of the insatiate voracity of certain animals ib. 

80. The omentum : the spleen ; animals which are without it 73 

81. The kidneys : animals which have four kidneys. Animals which 

have none ib. 

82. The breast : the ribs 74 

83. The bladder : animals which have no bladder ib. 

84. The womb : the womb of the sow : the teats 75 

85. Animals which have suet : animals which do not grow fat , . ib. 

86. The marrow : animals which have no marrow 76 

87. Bones and fish-bones : animals which have neither. Cartilages 77 

88. The nerves : animals which have none ib. 

89. The arteries ; the veins : animals without arteries or veins. The 

blood and the sweat 78 

90. Animals, the blood of which coagulates Math the greatest rapidity : 

other animals, the blood of which does not coagulate. Animals 
which have the thickest blood : those the blood of which is the 
thinnest : animals which have no blood ib. 

91. Animals Avhich are without blood at certain periods of the year . . 79 

92. Whether the blood is the principle of life 80 

93. The hide of animals ib. 

94. The hair and the covering of the skin 81 

95. The paps : birds which have paps. Remarkable facts connected 

with the dugs of animals 82 

98. The milk: the biestings. Cheese: of what milk cheese cannot 

be made. Rennet ; the various kinds of aliment in milk . . 83 

97. Various kinds of cheese 85 

98. Differences of the members of man from those of other animals . . 86 

99. The fingers, the arms .. ib. 

100. Resemblance of the ape to man tb. 

101. The nails 87 

102. The knees and the hams ib. 

103. Parts of the human body to which certain religious ideas are 

attached 88 



Chap. Papre 

104. Varicose veins 88 

1 05. The gait, the feet, the legs 89 

106. Hoofs ib. 

107. The feet of birds _ .. 90 

108. The feet of animals, from those having two feet to those with a 

hundred. — Dwarfs 91 

109. The sexual parts. — Hermaphrodites ib. 

110. The testes. — The three classes of eunuchs 92 

111. The tails of animals ib. 

112. The different voices of animals 93 

113. Superfluous limbs 95 

114. Signs of vitality and of the moral disposition of man, from the 

limbs 96 

115. Eespiration and nutriment 97 

116. Animals which when fed upon poison do not die, and the flesh 

of which is poisonous 98 

117. Reasons for indigestion. Remedies for crudity ib. 

118. From what causes corpulence arises; how it may be reduced .. ib. 

119. What things, by merely tasting of them, allay hunger and thirst 99 



1. The honourable place occupied by trees in the system of nature 101 

2. The early history of trees 102 

3. Exotic trees. When the plane-tree first appeared in Italy, and 

whence it came ." 103 

4. The nature of the plane-tree 104 

5. Remarkable facts connected with the plane-tree ib. 

6. The chamseplatanus. Who was the first to clip green shrubs . . 106 

7. How the citron is planted ib. 

8. The trees of India 107 

9. When ebony was first seen at Rome. The various kinds of ebony 1 09 

10. The Indian thorn ib. 

11. The Indian fig .. ib. 

12. Thepala: the fruit called ariena 110 

13. Indian trees, the names of which are unknown. Indian trees 

which bear flax Ill 

14. The pepper-tree. — The various kinds of pepper — bregma — zin- 

giber^ or zimpirebi ib. 

15. Caryophyllon, lycion, and the Chironian pyxacanthus ., .. 113 

16. Macir 114 

17. Sugar ., ib. 

18. Trees of Ariana, Gedrosia, and Hyrcania 115 

19. Trees of Bactriana, bdellium, or brochon, otherwise malacha, or 

maldacon, scordastum. Adulterations used in all spices and 

aromatics ; the various tests of them and their respective values ib. 

20. Trees of Persis 117 

21. Trees of the islands of the Persian Sea. The cotton tree. . . . ib. 


Chap. Page 

22. The tree called cyna. Trees from which fabrics for clothing 

are made in the east 118 

23. A-country where the trees never lose their leaves ib. 

24. The various useful products of trees 119 

25. Costus • ... ib. 

26. Nard. The twelve varieties of the plant ib. 

27. Asarum, or foal- foot 121 

28. Amomum. — Amomis 122 

29. Cardamomum 123 

30. The country of frankincense. ib. 

31. Thetrees which bear frankincense 125 

32. Various kinds of frankincense 126 

33. Myrrh '.. ..129 

34. The trees which produce myrrh 130 

35. The nature and various kinds of myrrh . . . . ib. 

36. Mastich 132 

37- Ladanum and stobolon ib. 

38. Enhamion 134 

39. The tree called bratus • 135 

40. The tree called stobrum ib. 

41. Why Arabia was called "Happy" .. .. 136 

42. Cinnamomum. Xylocinnamum .. . . „ 137 

43. Cassia , 140 

44. Cancamum and tarum 141 

45. Serichatum and gabalium 142 

46. Myrobalanum ib. 

47. Phcenicobalanus 143 

48. The sweet-scented calamus ; the sweet-scented rush 144 

49. Hammoniacum ib. 

50. Sphagnos 145 

51. Cypros .. .. 146 

52. Aspalathos, or erysisceptrum ib. 

53. Maron 147 

54. Balsamum ; opobalsamum ; and xylobalsamum ib. 

55. Storax .. 151 

56. Galbanum 152 

57. Panax ib. 

58. Spondylium .. .* ..153 

59. Malobathrum ib. 

60. Omphacium ib. 

61. Bryon, cenanthe, and massaris 154 

62. Elate or spathe 155 

63. Cinnamon or comacum ib. 



1. Unguents — at what period they were first introduced .. .. 159 

2. The various kinds of unguents — twelve principal compositions . . 160 


Chap. Fa#e 

3. Diapasma, magma ; the mode of testing unguents 166 

4. The excesses to which luxury has run in unguents lo7 

5. When unguents were first used by the Romans .. ..- .. .. 168 

6. The palm-tree . ..169 

7. The nature of the palm-tree 170 

8. How the palm-tree is planted 172 

9. The different varieties of palm-trees, and their characteristics . . 173 

10. The trees of Syria : the pistacia, the cottana, the damascena, and 

the myxa < .. ..178 

11. The cedar. Trees which have on them the fruit of three years at 

once ib. 

12. The terebinth 179 

13. The sumach-tree ib. 

14. The trees of Egypt. The fig-tree of Alexandria . . . . . . . . 180 

15. The fig-tree of Cyprus 181 

16. The carob-tree ib. 

17. The Persian tree. In what trees the fruits germinate the one 

below the other 182 

18. The cucus 183 

19. The Egyptian thorn . . . . ib. 

20. Nine kinds of gum. The sarcocolla 184 

21. The papyrus : the use of paper : when it was first invented . . 185 

22. The mode of making paper 186 

23. The nine different kinds of paper 187 

24. The mode of testing the goodness of paper 189 

25. The peculiar defects in paper 190 

26. The paste used in the preparation of paper 191 

27. The books of Numa ib. 

28. The trees of Ethiopia 193 

29. The trees of Mount Atlas. The citrus, and the tables made of 

the wood thereof .. .. 194 

30. The points that are desirable or otherwise in these tables . . . . 195 

31. The citron-tree 198, 

32. The lotus ib. 

33. The trees of Cyrenaica. The paliurus 200 

34. Nine varieties of the Punic apple. Balaustium ib. 

35. The trees of Asia and Greece ; the epipactis, the erica, the 

Cnidian grain or thymelsea, pyrosachne, cnestron, orcneoron. . 201 

36. Thetragion: tragacanthe ib. 

37. The tragos or scorpio ; the myrica or brya; the ostrys . . . . 202 

38. The euonymos . . ....." 203 

39. The tree called eon ib. 

40. The andrachle 204 

41. Thecoccygia; the apharce ib. 

42. The ferula ib. 

43. The thapsia 205 

44. The capparis or cynosbaton, otherwise ophiostaphyle . . ... . . 206 

45. The saripha 207 

46. The royal thorn ib. 

47. The cytisus 208 


Chap. p age 

48. The trees and shrubs of the Mediterranean. The phycos, prason, 

or zoster 209 

49. The sea hryon 210 

50. Plants of the Red Sea 211 

51. Plants of the Indian Sea ib. 

52. The plants of the Troglodytic Sea ; the hair of Isis : the Charito- 

blepharon ., .. 212 



1 and 2. The nature of the vine. Its mode of fructification .. .. 215 

3. The nature of the grape, and the cultivation of the vine . . . . 218 

4. Ninety-one varieties of the vine 222 

5. Remarkable facts connected with the culture of the vine .. .. 233 

6. The most ancient wines .. 236 

7. The nature of wines 238 

S. Fifty kinds of generous wines . . . . 239 

9. Thirty-eight varieties of foreign wine . . . . 245 

10. Seven kinds of salted wines 247 

11. Eighteen varieties of sweet wine. Raisin- wine and hepsema .. 248 

12. Three varieties of second-rate wine 251 

13. At what period generous wines were first commonly made in 

Italy ..251 

14. The inspection of wine ordered by King Romulus 252 

15. "Wines drunk by the ancient Romans 253 

16. Some remarkable facts connected with wine-lofts. The Opimian 

wine 254 

17. At what period four kinds of wine were first served at table . . ib. 

18. The uses of the wild vine. What juices are naturally the coldest 

of all 255 

19. Sixty-six varieties of artificial wine 256 

20. Hydromeli, or melicraton 261 

2 1 . Oxymeli ib. 

22. Twelve kinds of wine with miraculous properties 262 

23. "What wines it is not lawful to use in the sacred rites 263 

24. How must is usually prepared ib. 

25. Pitch and resin - 264 

26. Vinegar — lees of wine 268 

27. Wine-vessels — wine-cellars ib. 

28. Drunkenness 270 

29. Liquors with the strength of wine made from water and corn . . 274 



1. The olive. — How long it existed in Greece only.— At what period it 

was first introduced into Italy, Spain, and Africa 277 

2. The nature of the olive, and of new olive oil 278 


Chap. . l . , , , .. . Pa ^ e 

3. Olive oil : the countries in which it is produced, and its various 

qualities ^79 

4. Fifteen varieties of the olive *°* 

5. The nature of olive oil •• •• ' "; 

6. The culture of the olive : its mode of preservation. Ine method 

of making olive oil . . 285 

7. Forty-eight varieties of artificial oils. The cicus-tree or croton, 

or sili, or sesamum 286 

8. Amurca •• ••_■■ ■•...'" 

9. The various kinds of fruit-trees and their natures. Four varieties 

of pine-nuts . ;• •• •■ - 92 

10. The quince. Four kinds of cydonia, and four varieties ot tne 

struthea **• 

11. Six varieties of the peach j™ 

12. Twelve kinds of plums ^* 

13. The peach ; • 2 " 

U. Thirty different kinds of pomes. At what period foreign fruits 

were first introduced into Italy, and whence 297 

15. The fruits that have heen most recently introduced to. 

16. Forty-one varieties of the pear .•• •• 300 

17. Various methods of grafting trees. Expiations for lightning . . oOZ 

18. The mode of keeping various fruits and grapes 303 

19. Twenty-nine varieties of the fig * 307 

20. Historical anecdotes connected with the fig 309 

21. Caprification 311 

22. Three varieties of the medlar 314 

23. Four varieties of the sorb *% 

24. Nine varieties of the nut 31 o 

25. Eighteen varieties of the chesnut 318 

26. The carob 319 

27. The fleshy fruits. The mulberry «*• 

28. The fruit of the arbutus 320 

29. The relative natures of berry fruits 321 

30. Nine varieties of the cherry 322 

31. The cornel. The lentisk 323 

32. Thirteen different flavours of juices xo - 

33. The colour and smell of juices ■* •• 325 

34. The various natures of fruit 326 

35. The myrtle 328 

36. Historical anecdotes relative to the myrtle 328 

37. Eleven varieties of the myrtle 330 

38. The myrtle used at Rome in ovations ... 331 

39. The laurel ; thirteen varieties of it .. .: 332 

40. Historical anecdotes connected with the laurel 334 



1. Countries that have no trees. 339 

2. Wonders connected with trees in the nothern regions . . . . 340 


Chap. Page 

3. The acorn oak. The civic crown 34 L 

4. The origin of the presentation of crowns 342 

5. Persons presented with a crown of leaves ' 343 

6. Thirteen varieties of the acorn 345 

7. The beech 346 

8. The other acorns — wood for fuel ib* 

9. The gall-nut 350 

10. Other productions on these trees besides the acorn .. .. .. ib. 

11. Cachrys 351 

12. The kermes berry 353 

13. Agaric *'*• 

14. Trees of which the bark is used 354 

15. Shingles 355 

16. The pine .. .. •*• 

17. The pinaster 356 

18. The pitch-tree : the fir *'*• 

19. The larch : the torch-tree 357 

20. The yew .. .. 360 

21. Methods of making tar— how cedrium is made 361 

22. Methods by which thick pitch is prepared ib. 

23. How the resin called zopissa is prepared 363 

24. Trees the wood of which is highly valued. Four varieties of 

the ash 36a 

25. Two varieties of the linden-tree 366 

26. Ten varieties of the maple 367 

27. Bruscum : molluscum ; the staphylodendron -.368 

28. Three varieties of the box-tree ib. 

29. Four varieties of the elm 370 

30. The natures of the various trees according to their localities : the 

mountain trees, and the trees of the plain ib. 

31. Trees which grow on a dry soil : those which are found in wet 

localities : those which are found in both indifferently . . . . 372 

32. Division of trees into various species 373 

33. Trees which do not lose their foliage. The rhododendron. Trees 

which do not lose the whole of their foliage. Places in which 
there are no trees *b. 

34. The nature of the leaves which wither and fall . . . . . . . . 374 

35. Trees which have leaves of various colours ; trees with leaves of 

various shapes. Three varieties of the poplar " 375 

36. Leaves which turn round every year 376 

37. The care bestowed on the leaves of the palm, and the uses to 

which they are applied » 377 

38. Remarkable facts connected with leaves ib. 

39. The natural order of the production of plants 379 

40. Trees which never blossom. The juniper 380 

41. The fecundation of trees. Germination : the appearance of the fruit 381 

42. In what order the trees blossom . . ,. 383 

43. At what period each tree bears fruit. The cornel 384 

44. Trees which bear the whole year. Trees which have on them 

the fruit of three fears 385 


Chap. • Pa ° 9 

45. Trees which bear no fruit : trees looked upon as ill-omened . . 385 

46. Trees which lose their fruit or flowers most readily 38& 

47. Trees which are unproductive in certain places 387 

48. The mode in which trees bear . . . . . • ib. 

49. Trees in which the fruit appears before the leaves ib. 

50 ' Trees which bear two crops in a vear. Trees which bear three 


crops • • .• • o0 ° 

51. Which trees become old with the greatest rapidity, ami which 

most slowly 389 

52. Trees which bear various products. Cratsegum 390 

53. Differences in trees in respect of the trunks and branches . . . . 391 

54. The branches of trees 392 

55. The bark of trees 393 

56. The roots of trees ib. 

51. Trees which have grown spontaneously from the ground . . . . 394 

58. How trees grow spontaneously— diversities in their nature, the 

same trees not growing everywhere 395 

59. Plants that will not grow in certain places . . ^ 396 

60. The cypress * 397 

61. That the earth often bears productions which it has never borne 

before 399 

62. The ivy — twenty varieties of it ib. 

63. Thesmilax 402 

64. Water plants : the rush : twenty-eight varieties of the reed . . 403 

65. Reeds used for arrows, and for the purpose of writing . . . . 404 

66. Flute reeds : the reed of Orchomenus ; reeds used for fowling 

and fishing 405 

67. The vine-dresser's reed " 408 

68. The willow : eight varieties of it 409 

69. Trees, in addition to the willow, which are of use in making 

withes _ 410 

70. Rushes: candle-rushes: rushes for thatching 411 

71. The elder: the bramble ib. 

72. The juices of trees 412 

73. The veins and fibres of trees 413 

74. The felling of trees 415 

75. The opinion of Cato on the felling of timber 416 

76. The size of trees : the nature of wood : the sappinus 417 

77. Methods of obtaining fire from wood .. 421 

78. Trees which are proof against decay : trees which never split . . 422 

79. Historical facts connected with the durability of wood .. .. 423 

80. Varieties of the teredo . . . . . , 425 

81. The woods used in building 426 

82. Carpenters' woods 427 

83. Woods united with glue ib. 

84. Veneering . . 428 

85. The age of trees. A tree that was planted by the first Scipio 

Africanus. A tree at Rome five hundred years old . . . . 429 

86. Trees as old as the City 430 

87. Trues in the suburban districts older than the City ib. 


Chap. . Page 

88. Trees planted by Agamemnon the first year of the Trojan war : 

other trees which date from the time that the place was called 
Ilium, anterior to the Trojan war 431 

89. Trees planted at Argos by Hercules : others planted by Apollo. 

A tree more ancient than Athens itself ib. 

90. Trees which are the most short-lived 432 

91. Trees which have been rendered famous by remarkable events . . ib. 

92. Plants which have no peculiar spot for their growth : others that 

grow upon trees, and will not grow in the ground. Nine va- 
rieties of them : cadytas, polypodion, phaulias, hippophseston 433 

93. Three varieties of mistletoe. The nature of mistletoe and similar 

plants 434 

94. The method of making birdlime 435 

95. Historical facts connected with the mistletoe 435 



1. Trees which have been sold at enormous prices . . 438 

2. The influence of weather upon trees : what is the proper situation 

for tbe vine 441 

3. What soils are to be considered the best 446 

4. The eight kinds of earth boasted of by the Gauls and Greeks . . 452 

5. The employment of ashes 455 

6. Manure ..456 

7. Crops which tend to improve the land : crops which exhaust it . . 459 

8. The proper mode of using manure ib. 

9. The modes in which trees bear 460 

10. Plants which are propagated by seed ib. 

11. Trees which never degenerate 461 

12. Propagation by suckers 463 

13. Propagation by slips and cuttings 464 

14. Seed-plots #■ 

15. The mode of propagating the elm 467 

16. The holes for transplanting .. 468 

17. The intervals to be left between trees .. 472 

18. The nature of the shadow thrown by trees .. ._. 473 

19. The droppings of water from the leaves - : .. 474 

20. Trees which grow but slowly : those which grow with rapidity .. 475 

21. Trees propagated from layers } b. 

22. Grafting : the first discovery of it 477 

23. Inoculation or budding - *»■ 

24. The various kinds of grafting % b. 

25. Grafting the vine 482 

26. Grafting by scutcheons 483 

27. Plants which grow from a branch 485 

28. Trees which grow from cuttings : the mode of planting them . . 486 

29. The cultivation of the olive ib - 


Chap. , . Pa S e 

30. Transplanting operations as distributed throughout the various 

seasons of the year 487 

SI. The cleaning and baring of the roots, and moulding them . . . . 491 

32. Willow-beds 492 

33. Reed-beds j93 

34. Other plants that are cut for poles and stakes T . 494 

35. The culture of the vine and the various shrubs which support it . . 495 

36. How grapes are protected from the ravages of insects . . ..517 

37. The diseases of trees '^ 

38. Prodigies connected with trees 526 

39. Treatment of the diseases of trees 528 

40. Methods of irrigation ; ^29 

41. Remarkable facts connected with irrigation #• 

42. Incisions made in trees 530 

43. Other remedies for the diseases of trees *&- 

44. Caprification, , and particulars connected with the fig 531 

45. Errors that may be committed in pruning #• 

46. The proper mocle of manuring trees p32 

47. Medicaments for trees w - 


Acetabulum. E 

Actus. R 

Amphora. E 

As, E 

As. E [weight] 

Concha, Smaller, G and E 
Concha, Larger, G and E 

Congius. E 

Cubitus. G 

Cubitus. E 

Culeus. E 

Cyathus. G and E 

Denarius. E 

Denarius. E. [weight] . . . 
Digitus, or Finger. E. ... 

Drachma. G 

Hemina. E 

Jugerum. E 

Libra, or Pound, E. 

Mina * G 

Modius. E. [dry measure] 

Obolus, G 

Obolus. G, [weight] 
Palmus, or Handbreadth. E 
Passus, or Pace.f E 

...■§■ of a Sextarius, .1238 pint. 

...120 Pedes or Eoman feet. 

...48 Sextarii, 5 gall. 7,577 pints. 

...2£ farthings. Copper. 

...See "Libra." 

...•041 2 pint. 

... -1238 pint. 

...5.9471 pints. 

,..1 foot 6.2016 inches. 

...1 foot 5.4744 inches. 

...20 Amphorae, 118 gall. 7.546 pints. 

...tV of a Sextarius, .0825 pint. 

,..16 Asses, 8| pence. Silver. 

...52.5 to 60 grains. 

,..Yt of a Pes, .7281 inch. 

...'63 grains. 

..See " Semisextarius." 

..240 Pedes or Eoman feet by 120. 

...llf ounces 60.45 grains, avoird. 

...15 ounces 83.75 grains, avoird. 

..1 of an Amphora, 1 gall. 7.8576 

..1^.5 pence. Silver. [pints. 

..10.5 grains. 

..2.9214 inches. 

...5 Eoman feet, 4 ft. 10.248 inches. 

* In B. xn. c. 32— it is supposed by some that it is the Eoman Libra 
that is meant, under the name of " Mina," as containing eighty-four 
Denarii. If so, it must be the old Eoman Libra, as it is more generally 
thought tbat the Libra of Pliny's time contained ninety-six Denarii, of 
sixty grains, within a fraction. 

t One thousand Paces made a Eoman " Mille Passuum," or Mile, 
1618 yards English. 


Pes, or Foot. R ... .. 
Pollex, or Thumb. E .. 

Quadrans. E 

Quadrans. R [weight] ., 

Quadrantal. E 

Quartarius, E 

Quinarius. B ■ 

Scripulum, or Scruple. B 

Semisextarius. B 

Sestertius. R 

Sestertium. E 

Sextarius. E 

Spithama, or Span. G . 

Stadium. G and E . . . . 

Teruncius. E 

Ulna, or Ell. E ... . 
Uncia, or Inch. R ... . 
Uncia, or Ounce. E... . 

Urna. E 

Victoriatus. E 

...12 Uncia?, 11.6496 inches. 

...See "Uncia" [lineal measure]. 

. . . -53, 1 25 farthing. Copper. 

...3 Uncise, 2f ounces 97.21 grs. 

...See "Amphora." 

...! of a Sextarius, .2477 pint. 

...\ of a Denarius. 

...-2V of an Uncia, 18.06 grains. 

...\ of a Sextarius. 

. . ,\ of a Denarius. Brass or Silver. 

...1000 Sestertii, £7 16s 3d. 

.. i of a Congius, .9911 pint. 

...9.1008 inches. 

.. i of a Eoman mile, 606 feet 9 in. 

... See "Quadrans" [weight & money]. 

...6 feet, 81 inch. 

... T Vof a Pes, .9708 inch. 

...-^ of a Libra. 433.666 grs. 

\ of an Amphora. 

See " Quinarius." 

The Schcenus, an Egyptian and Persian lineal measure, varied 
considerably ; being sometimes thirty, and sometimes forty Stadia. 
See B. v. c. 11, B. vi. c. 30, and B. xii. c. 30. 

The Attic Talent, as a weight, was equal to 56fb. 15ioz. 
100.32 grains. The Commercial Talent was 85ft». 2|oz. 70.7 grs. 
The Silver Attic, or Great Talent, was in value £343 15s. or, 
according to Pollux, £406 5s. The Gold, or Sicilian Talent, was 
equal in weight to six Attic Drachma^ or about f oz. and 71 grs. 
The Egyptian Talent, as a measure of weight, was equal to 
about twice the Attic Talent. 





\V E shall now proceed to a description of the insects, a 
subject replete with endless difficulties j 1 for, in fact, there 
are some authors who have maintained that they do not respire, 
and that they are destitute of blood. The insects are numerous, 
and form many species, and their mode of life is like that of 
the terrestrial animals and the birds. Some of them are fur- 
nished with wings, bees for instance ; others are divided into 
those kinds which have wings, and those which are without 
them, such as ants ; while others, again, are destitute of both 
wings and feet. All these animals have been very properly 
called " insects," 2 from the incisures or divisions which sepa- 
rate the body, sometimes at the neck, and sometimes at the 
corselet, and so divide it into members or segments, only 
united to each other by a slender tube. In some insects, how- 
ever, this division is not complete, as it is surrounded by 
wrinkled folds ; and thus the flexible vertebra) of the creature, 
whether situate at the abdomen, or whether only at the upper 
part of the body, are protected by layers, overlapping each 
other ; indeed, in no one of her works has Nature more fully 
displayed her exhaustless ingenuity. 

(2.) In large animals, on the other hand, or, at all events, 

1 " Immensae subtilitatis." As Cuvier remarks, the ancients have com- 
mitted more errors in reference to the insects, than to any other portion of 
the animal world. The discovery of the microscope has served more than 
anything to correct these erroneous notions. 

2 " Insecta," "articulated." 


2 pliny's natueal histoey. [Book XI. 

in the very largest among them, she found her task easy and 
her materials ready and pliable ; but in these minute creatures, 
so nearly akin as they are to non-entity, how surpassing the 
intelligence, how vast the resources, and how ineffable the 
perfection which she has displayed. Where is it that she has 
united so many senses as in the gnat ? — not to speak of creatures 
that might be mentioned of still smaller size — "Where, I say, 
has she found room to place in it the organs of sight ? Where 
has she centred the sense of taste ? Where has she inserted 
the power of smell ? And where, too, has she implanted that 
sharp shrill voice of the creature, so utterly disproportioned to 
the smallness of its body ? With what astonishing subtlety 
has she united the wings to the trunk, elongated the joints 
of the legs, framed that long, craving concavity for a belly, and 
then inflamed the animal with an insatiate thirst for blood, 
that of m an more especially ! What ingenuity has she displayed 
in providing it with a sting, 3 so well adapted for piercing the 
skin ! And then too, just as though she had had the most 
extensive field for the exercise of her skill, although the 
weapon is so minute that it can hardly be seen, she has formed 
it with a twofold mechanism, providing it with a point for the 
purpose of piercing, and at the same moment making it hollow, 
to adapt it for suction. 

What teeth, too, has she inserted in the teredo, * to adapt it 
for piercing oak even with a sound which fully attests their 
destructive power ! while at the same time she has made wood 
its principal nutriment. We give all our admiration to the 
shoulders of the elephant as it supports the turret, to the 
stalwart neck of the bull, and the might with which it hurls 
aloft whatever comes in its way, to the onslaught of the tiger, 
or to the mane of the lion ; while, at the same time, Nature is 
nowhere to be seen to greater perfection than in the very 
smallest of her works. For this reason then, I must beg of 
my readers, notwithstanding the contempt they feel for many 
of these objects, not to feel a similar disdain for the informa- 
tion I am about to give relative thereto, seeing that, in the 

3 The trunk of the gnat, Cuvier says, contains five silken and pointed 
threads, which together have the effect of a sting. 

4 The Teredo navalis of Linnaeus, not an insect, hut one of the mollusks. 
This is the same creature that is mentioned in B. xvi. c. 80 ; but that spoken 
of in B. viii. c. 74, must have been a land insect. 

Chap. 2.J INSECTS. 3 

study of Nature, there are none of her works that are unworthy 
of our consideration. 



Many authors deny that insects respire, 5 and make the 
assertion upon the ground, that in their viscera there is no 
respiratory organ to be found. On this ground, they assert 
that insects have the same kind of life as plants and trees, 
there being a very great difference between respiring and merely 
having life. On similar grounds also, they assert that insects 
have no blood, a thing which cannot exist, they say, in any 
animal that is destitute of heart and liver ; just as, according 
to them, those creatures cannot breathe which have no lungs. 
Upon these points, however, a vast number of questions will 
naturally arise ; for the same writers do not hesitate to deny 
that these creatures are destitute also of voice, 6 and this, 
notwithstanding the humming of bees, the chirping of grass- 
hoppers, and the sounds emitted by numerous other insects 
which will be considered in their respective places. For my 
part, whenever I have considered the subject, I have ever felt 
persuaded that there is nothing impossible to Nature, nor. do I 
see why creatures should be less able to live and yet not 
inhale, than to respire without being possessed of viscera, a 
doctrine which I have already maintained, when speaking 7 of 
the marine animals; and that, notwithstanding the density 
and the vast depth of the water which would appear to impede 
all breathing. But what person could very easily believe that 
there can be any creatures that fly to and fro, and live in the 
very midst of the element of respiration, while, at the same time, 
they themselves are devoid of that respiration ; that they can 
be possessed of the requisite instincts for nourishment, gene- 
ration, working, and making provision even for time to come, 
in the enjoyment too (although, certainly, they are not pos- 
sessed of the organs which act, as it were, as the receptacles 

5 They respire by orifices in the sides of the hody, known to naturalists 
as stigmata. The whole body, Cuvier says, forms, in a measure, a system of 

6 Cuvier remarks that the various noises made by insects are in reality 
not the voice, as they are not produced by air passing through a larynx. 

? 13. Lx. c. G. 

E 2 


of those senses) of the powers of hearing, smelling, and tast- 
ing, as well as those other precious gilts of Nature, address, 
courage, and skilfulness ? That these creatures have no blood 8 
I am ready to admit, just as all the terrestrial animals are not 
possessed of it ; but then, they have something similar, by way 
of equivalent. Just as in the sea, the saepia 9 has a black 
liquid in place of blood, and the various kinds of purples, those 
juices which we use for the purposes of dyeing ; so, too, is every 
insect possessed of its own vital humour, which, whatever it 
is, is blood to it. While I leave it to others to form what 
opinion they please on this subject, it is my purpose to set 
forth the operations of Nature in the clearest possible light, 
and not to enter upon the discussion of points that are replete 
with doubt. 


Insects, so far as I find myself able to ascertain, seem to 
have neither sinews, 10 bones, spines, cartilages, fat, nor flesh; 
nor yet so much as a frail shell, like some of the marine ani- 
mals, nor even anything that can with any propriety be 
termed skin ; but they have a body which is of a kind of inter- 
mediate nature between all these, of an arid substance, softer 
than muscle, and in other respects of a nature that may, in 
strictness, be rather pronounced yielding, 11 than hard. Such, 
then, is all that they are, and nothing more : 12 in the inside 
of their bodies there is nothing, except in some few, which 
have an intestine arranged in folds. Hence it is, that even 
when cut asunder, they are remarkable for their tenacity of 
life, and the palpitations which are to be seen in each of their 
parts. For every portion of them is possessed of its own 
vital principle, which is centred in no limb in particular, but 

8 Cuvier remarks, that they have a nourishing fluid, which is of a white 
colour, and acts in place of blood. 

9 The dye of stepia, Cuvier remarks, is not blood, nor does it act as such, 
being an excrementitious liquid. It lias in addition a bluish, transparent, 
blood. The same also with the juices of the purple. 

10 << Nervos." Cuvier says that all insects haA r e a brain, a sort of spinal 
marrow, and nerves. 

11 "Tutius." 

12 Insects have no fat, Cuvier says, except when in the chrysalis state ; 
but they have a fibrous uesh of a whitish colour. They have also viscera, 
trachea, nerves, and a most complicated organization. 

Chap. 5.] BEES. 5 

in every part of the body ; least of all, however, in the head, 
which alone is subject to no movements unless torn off together 
with the corselet. No kind of animal has more feet than the 
insects have, and those among them which have the most, live 
the longest when cut asunder, as we see in the case of the scolo- 
pendra. They have eyes, and the senses as well of touch and 
taste ; some of them have also the sense of smelling, and some 
few that of hearing. 

chap. 4. (5.) — BEES. 

But among them all, the first rank, and our especial admi- 
ration, ought, in justice, to be accorded to bees, which alone, 
of all the insects, have been created for the benefit of man. 
They extract honey and collect it, a juicy substance remarkable 
for its extreme sweetness, lightness, and wholesomeness. They 
form their combs and collect wax, an article that is useful for 
a thousand purposes of life ; they are patient of fatigue, toil at 
their labours, form themselves into political communities, hold 
councils together in private, elect chiefs in common, and, a thing 
that is the most remarkable of all, have their own code of morals. 
In addition to this, being as they are, neither tame nor wild, 
so all-powerful is Nature, that, from a creature so minute as to 
be nothing more hardly than the shadow of an animal, she has 
created a marvel beyond all comparison. What muscular 
power, what exertion of strength are we to put in comparison 
with such vast energy and such industry as theirs ? What dis- 
play of human genius, in a word, shall we compare with the 
reasoning powers manifested by them ? In this they have, at 
all events, the advantage of us — they know of nothing but what 
is for the common benefit of all. Away, then, with all questions 
whether they respire or no, and let us be ready to agree on 
the question of their blood ; and yet, how little of it can pos- 
sibly exist in bodies so minute as theirs. — And now let us 
form some idea of the instinct they display. 


Bees keep within the hive during the winter— for whence 
are they to derive the strength requisite to withstand frosts 
and snows, and the northern blasts ? The same, in fact, is 
done by all insects, but not to so late a period; as those 


which conceal themselves in the walls of our houses, are much 
sooner sensible of the returning warmth. With reference to 
bees, either seasons and climates have considerably changed, or 
else former writers have been greatly mistaken. They retire 
for the winter at the setting of the Vergilise, and remain shut 
up till after the rising of that constellation, and not till only 
the beginning of spring, as some authors have stated ; nor, in- 
deed, does any one in Italy ever think of then opening the hives. 
They do not come forth to ply their labours until the bean 
blossoms ; and then not a day do they lose in inactivity, while 
the weather is favourable for their pursuits. 

First of all, they set about constructing their combs, and 
forming the wax, or, in other words, making their dwellings 
and cells ; after this they produce their young, and then make 
honey and wax from flowers, and extract bee-glue 12 from the 
tears of those trees which distil glutinous substances, the 
juices, gums, and resins, namely, of the willow, the elm, and 
the reed. With these substances, as well as others of a more 
bitter nature, they first line the whole inside of the hive, as a 
sort of protection ag«ainst the greedy propensities of other small 
insects, as they are well aware that they are about to form 
that which will prove an object of attraction to them. Having 
done this, they employ similar substances in narrowing the 
entrance to the hive, if otherwise too wide. 



The persons who understand this subject, call the substance 
which forms the first foundation of their combs, commosis, u the 
next, pissoceros™ and the third propolis;** which last is placed 
between the other layers and the wax, and is remarkable for 
its utility in medicine. 16 The commosis forms the first crust 
or layer,* and has a bitter taste ; and upon it is laid the pisso- 
ceros, a kind of thin wax, which acts as a sort of varnish. 
The propolis is produced from the sweet gum of the vine or 

12 "Melligo." For further information on this subject consult Bevan 
on the Honey Bee. 

13 Or "conusis," " gummy matter." 

14 Pitch-wax. 

15 A kind of bee-glue ; the origin of the name does not seem to be 
known. Reaumur says that they are all different varieties of bee-glue. 

16 See B. xxii. c. 50. 

Chap. 8.1 BEES. 7 

the poplar, and is of a denser consistency, the juices of flowers 
being added to it. Still, however, it cannot be properly termed 
wax, but rather the foundation of the honey-combs ; by means 
of it all inlets are stopped up, which might, otherwise,_ serve 
for the admission of cold or other injurious influences ; it has 
also a strong odour, so much so, indeed, that many people use 
it instead of galbanum. 


In addition to this, the bees form collections of erithace or 
bee-bread, which some persons call "sandaraca," 17 and others 
" cerinthos." This is to serve as the food of the bees while 
they are at work, and is often found stowed away in the cavi- 
ties of the cells, being of a bitter flavour also. It is produced 
from the spring dews and the gummy juices of trees, being 
less abundant while the south-west wind is blowing, and 
blackened by the prevalence of a south wind. On the other 
hand, again, it is of a reddish colour and becomes improved by 
the north-east wind ; it is found in the greatest abundance upon 
the nut trees in Greece. Menecrates says, that it is a flower, 
which gives indications of the nature of the coming harvest ; 
but no one says so, with the exception of him. 



Bees form wax 18 from the blossoms of all trees and plants, 
with the sole exception of the rumex 19 and the echinopodes,* 
both being kinds of herbs. It is by mistake, however, that 
spartum is excepted ; 21 for many varieties of honey that come 
from Spain, and have been made in the plantations of it, have 
a strong taste of that plant. I am of opinion, also, that it is 
without any sufficient reason that the olive has been excepted, 
seeing that it is a well-known fact, that where olives are in 
the greatest abundance, the swarms of bees are the most nu- 
merous. Bees are not injurious to fruit of any kind ; they will 

17 Different combinations of the pollen of flowers, on which bees feed. 

18 It is formed from the honey that the bee has digested. 

is Sorrel, or monk's rhubarb. 20 A kind of broom. 

2i Spanish broom, the Stipa tenacissima of Linnoeus. Kopes were made 
of it. See B. xix. c. 7. 

8 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

never settle on a dead flower, much less a dead carcase. They 
pursue their labours within three- score paces of their hives ; 
and when the flowers in their vicinity are exhausted, they 
send out scouts from time to time, to discover places for forage 
at a greater distance. When overtaken by night in their ex- 
peditions, they watch till the morning, lying on their backs, 
in order to protect their wings from the action of the dew. 


It is not surprising that there have been persons who have 
made bees their exclusive study ; Aristomachus of Soli, for 
instance, who for a period of fifty-eight years did nothing else ; 
Philiseus of Thasos, also, surnamed Agrius, 22 who passed his 
life in desert spots, tending swarms of bees. Both of these 
have written works on this subject. 


The manner in which bees carry on their work is as follows. 
In the _ day time a guard is stationed at the entrance of the 
hive, like the sentries in a camp. At night they take their 
rest until the morning, when one of them awakes the rest with 
a humming noise, repeated twice or thrice, just as though it were 
sounding a trumpet. They then take their flight in a body, 
if the day is likely to turn out fine ; for they have the gift of 
foreknowing wind and rain, and in such case will keep close 
within their dwellings. On the other hand, when the weather is 
fine — and this, too, they have the power of foreknowing — the 
swarm issues forth, and at once applies itself to its work, some 
loading their legs from the flowers, while others fill their 
mouths with water, and charge the downy surface of their 
bodies with drops of liquid. Those among them that are 
young 23 go forth to their labours, and collect the materials 
already mentioned, while those that are more aged stay within 
the hives and work. The bees whose business it is to carry 
the flowers, with their fore feet load their thighs, which Nature 
has made rough for the purpose, and with their trunks load 

2 2 Or, the " wild man." 

23 Huber has discovered that there are two kinds of bees of neutral sex, 
or, as he calls them, unprolific females, the workers, which go out. and 
the nurses, which are smaller, and stay in the hive to tend the larva}.' 

Chap. 10.] BEES. 9 

their fore feet : bending beneath their load, they then return 
to the hive, where there are three or four bees ready to receive 
them and aid in discharging their burdens. For, within the 
hive as well, they have their allotted duties to perform : some 
are engaged in building, others in. smoothing, the combs, while 
others again are occupied in passing on the materials, and 
others in preparing food 24 from the provision which has been 
brought ; that there may be no unequal division, either in their 
labour, their food, or the distribution of their time, they do not 
even feed separately. 

Commencing at the vaulted roof of the hive, they begin 
the construction of their cells, and, just as we do in the manu- 
facture of a web, they construct their cells from top to bottom, 
taking care to leave two passages around each compartment, 
for the entrance of some and the exit of others. The combs, 
which are fastened to the hive in the upper part, and in a 
slight degree also at the sides, adhere to each other, and are 
thus suspended altogether. They do not touch the floor of the 
hive, and are either angular or round, according to its shape ; 
sometimes, in fact, they are both angular and round at once, 
when two swarms are living in unison, but have dissimilar 
modes of operation. They prop up the combs that are likely 
to fall, by means of arched pillars, at intervals springing from 
the floor, so as to leave them a passage for the purpose of 
effecting repairs. The first three ranks of their cells are gene- 
rally left empty when constructed, that there may be nothing 
exposed to view which may invite theft ; and it is the last 
ones, more especially, that are filled with honey : hence 
it is that the combs are always taken out at the back of the 

The bees that are employed in carrying look out for a favour- 
able breeze, and if a gale should happen to spring up, they 
poise themselves in the air with little stones, by way of bal- 
last ; some writers, indeed, say that they place them upon their 
shoulders. When the wind is contrary, they fly close to the 
ground, taking care, however, to keep clear of the brambles. 
It is wonderful what strict watch is kept upon their work : all 
instances of idleness are carefully remarked, the offenders are 

24 From the honey found in the corolla? of flowers. This, after heing 
prepared in the first stomach of the hee, is deposited in the cell which is 
formed for its reception. 

10 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 

chastised, and on a repetition of the fault, punished with death. 
Their sense of cleanliness, too, is quite extraordinary ; every- 
thing is removed that might be in the way, and no filth is 
allowed to remain in the midst of their work. The ordure 
even of those that are at work within, that they may not have 
to retire to any distance, is all collected in one spot, and on 
stormy days, when they are obliged to cease their ordinary 
labours, they employ themselves in carrying it out. When 
it grows towards evening, the buzzing in the hive becomes 
gradually less and less, until at last one of their number is to 
be seen flying about the hive with the same loud humming 
noise with which they were aroused in the morning, there- 
by giving the signal, as it were, to retire to rest : in this, too, 
they imitate the usage of the camp. The moment the signal 
is heard, all is silent. 

(11.) They first construct the dwellings of the commonalty, 
and then those of the king-bee. If they have reason to expect 
an abundant 25 season, they add abodes also for the drones: 
these are cells of a smaller size, though the drones themselves 
are larger than the bees. 

CHAP. 11. — DRONES. 

The drones have no sting, 26 and would seem to be a kind of 
imperfect bee, formed the very last of all ; the expiring effort, 
as it were, of worn-out and exhausted old age, a late and tardy 
offspring, "and doomed, in a measure, to be the slaves of the 
genuine bees. Hence it is that the bees exercise over thein a 
rigorous authority, compel them to take the foremost rank in 
their labours, and if they show any sluggishness, punish them 27 
without mercy. And not only in their labours do the drones 
give them their assistance, but in the propagation of their spe- 
cies as well, the very multitude of them contributing greatly 
to the warmth of the hive. At all events, it is a well-known 
fact, that the greater 28 the multitude of the drones, the more 

25 Cuvier says that the three kinds of cells are absolutely necessary, and 
that they do not depend on the greater or less abundance. The king ot 
the ancients is what we know as thegueenhee, which is impregnated by the 
drones or males. 

26 This is the fact, but not so their imperfect state. 

w They do not work, but merely impregnate the queen;, after which 
they are driven from the hive, and perish of cold and starvation. 

=8 It appears, as Cuvier says, that the ancients had some notion that the 
swarm was multiplied by the aid of the drones. 

Chap. 12.] QUALITIES OF HONEY. 11 

numerous is sure to be the progeny of the swarm. When the 
honey is beginning to come to maturity, the bees drive away 
the drones, and setting upon each in great numbers, put them 
all to death. It is only^in the spring that the drones are 
ever to be seen. If you deprive a drone of its wings, and then 
replace it in the hive, it will pull off the wings of the other 


In the lower part of the hive they construct for their future 
sovereign a palatial abode, 29 spacious and grand, separated from 
the rest, and surmounted by a sort of dome : if this promi- 
nence should happen to be flattened, all hopes of progeny are 
lost. All the cells are hexagonal, each foot 30 having formed 
its own side. No part of this work, however, is done at any 
stated time, as the bees seize every opportunity for the perform- 
ance of their task when the days are fine ; in one or two 
days, at most, they fill their cells with honey. 

(12.) This substance is engendered from the air, 31 mostly at 
the rising of the constellations, and more especially when 
Sirius is shining ; never, however, before the rising of the 
Vergiliae, and then just before day-break. Hence it is, that at 
early dawn the leaves of the trees are found covered with a 
kind of honey-like dew, and those who go into the open air at 
an early hour in the morning, find their clothes covered, and 
their hair matted, with a sort of unctuous liquid. Whether 
it is that this liquid is the sweat of the heavens, or whether 
a saliva emanating from the stars, or a juice exuding from the 
air while purifying itself, would that it had been, when it 
comes to us, pure, limpid, and genuine, as it was, when first 
it took its downward descent. But as it is, falling from so 
vast a height, attracting corruption in its passage, and tainted 
by the exhalations of the earth as it meets them, sucked, too, 
as it is from off the trees and the herbage of the fields, and 
accumulated in the stomachs of the bees — for they cast it up 

29 Cuvier says that the cell for the future queen is different from the 
others, and much larger. - The bees also supply the queen larva much more 
abundantly with food, and of more delicate quality. 

50 Cuvier says that this coincidence with the number of the legs is quite 
accidental, as it is with the mouth that the animal constructs the cell. 

51 The basis of it is really derived from the calix or corolla of flowers. 

12 plant's natural HISTORY. [Book XI. 

again through the mouth — deteriorated besides by the juices 
of flowers, and then steeped within the hives and subjected to 
such repeated changes — still, in spite of all this, it affords us 
by its flavour a most exquisite pleasure, the result, no doubt, 
of its aethereal nature and origin. 


The honey is always best in those countries where it is to 
be found deposited in the calix of the most exquisite flowers, 
such, for instance, as the districts of Hymettus and Hybla, 
in Attica and Sicily respectively, and after them the island of 
Calydna. 33 At first, honey is thin, like water, after which it 
effervesces for some days, and purifies itself like must. On 
the twentieth day it begins to thicken, and soon after becomes 
covered with a thin membrane, which gradually increases 
through the scum which is thrown up by the heat. The 
honey of the very finest flavour, and the least tainted by the 
leaves of trees, is that gathered from the foliage of the oak 
and the linden, and from reeds. 



The peculiar excellence of honey depends, as already stated, 33 
on the country in which it is produced ; the modes, too, of 
estimating its quality are numerous. In some countries we find 
the honey-comb remarkable for the goodness of the wax, as in 
Sicily, for instance, and the country of the Peligni ; in other 
places the honey itself is found in greater abundance, as in 
Crete, Cyprus, and Africa ; and in others, again, the comb is 
remarkable for its size ; the northern climates, for instance, 
for in Germany a comb has been known to be as much as eight 
feet in length, and quite black on the concave surface. 

But whatever the country in which it may happen to have been 
produced, there are three different kinds of honey. — Spring 
honey 34 is that made in a comb which has been constructed of 
flowers, from w T hich circumstance it has received the name of an- 
thinum. There are some persons who say that this should not 
be touched, because the more abundant the nutriment, the 

v See B. iv. c. 24. 33 In the last Chapter. 

34 o r a Flower-honey." 

Chap. 14] VARI0T7S KINDS OF HONEY. 13 

stronger will be the coming swarm ; while others, again, leave 
less of this honey than of any other for the bees, on the ground 
that there is sure to be a vast abundance at the rising of the 
greater constellations, as well as at the summer solstice, when 
the thyme and the vine begin to blossom, for then they are 
sure to find abundant materials for their cells. 

In taking the combs the greatest care is always requisite, for 
when they are stinted for food the bees become desperate, and 
either pine to death, or else wing their flight to other places : 
but on the other hand, over- abundance will entail idleness, 
and then they will feed upon the honey, and not the bee-bread. 
Hence it is that the most careful breeders take care to leave 
the bees a fifteenth part of this gathering. There is a certain 
day for beginning the honey- gathering, fixed, as it were, by a 
law of Nature, if men would only understand or observe it, 
being the thirtieth day after the bees have swarmed and come 
forth. This gathering mostly takes place before the end of 

The second kind of honey is "summer honey," which, from 
the circumstance of its being produced at the most favourable 
season, has received the Greek name of horaion ; 35 it is gene- 
rally made during the next thirty days after the solstice, while 
Sirius is shining in all its brilliancy. Nature has revealed in 
this substance most remarkable properties to mortals, were it 
not that the fraudulent propensities of man are apt to falsify 
and corrupt everything. For, after the rising of each constel- 
lation, and those of the highest rank more particularly, ot after 
the appearance of the rainbow, if a shower does not ensue, 
but the dew becomes warmed by the sun's rays, a medicament, 
and not real honey, is produced ; a gift sent from heaven for 
the cure of diseases of the eyes, ulcers, and maladies of the 
internal viscera. If this is taken at the rising of Sirius, and 
the rising of Yenus, Jupiter, or Mercury should happen to fall 
on the same day, as often is the case, the sweetness of this 
substance, and the virtue which it possesses of restoring men 
to life, are not inferior to those attributed to the nectar of the 

35 Season-honey. 

14 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 



The crop of honey is most abundant if gathered at full 
moon, and it is richest when the weather is fine. In all 
honey, that which flows of itself, like must or oil, has received 
from'us the name of acetum.™ The summer honey is the most 
esteemed of all, from the fact of its being made when the 
weather is driest : it is looked upon as the most serviceable 
when made from thyme f it is then of a golden colour, and 
of a most delicious flavour. The honey that we see formed 
in the calix of flowers is of a rich and unctuous nature ; that 
which is made from rosemary is thick, while that which is 
candied is little esteemed. Thyme honey does not coagulate, 
and on being touched will draw out into thin viscous threads, 
a thing which is the principal proof of its heaviness. When 
honey shows no tenacity, and the drops immediately part 
from one another, it is looked upon as a sign of its worthless- 
ness. The other proofs of its goodness are the fine aroma of 
its smell, its being of a sweetness that closely borders on the 
sour, 38 and being glutinous and pellucid. _ 

Cassius Dionysius is of opinion that in the summer gathering 
the tenth part of the honey ought to be left for the bees if the 
hives should happen to be well filled, and even if not, still in 
the same proportion ; while, on the other hand, if there is but 
little in them, he recommends that it should not be touched 
at all. The people of Attica have fixed the period for com- 
mencing this gathering at the first ripening of the wild fig ; 
others 39 have made it the day that is sacred to Yulcan. 40 

(16.) The third kind of honey, which is the least esteemed 
of all, is the wild honey, known by the name of ericaum* It 
is collected by the bees after the first showers of autumn 
when the heather 42 alone is blooming in the woods, from which 
circumstance it derives its sandy appearance. It is mostly pro- 
se " Vinegar " is the ordinary meaning. 
3' Sillig remarks that the whole of this passage is corrupt. 

38 Hence, perhaps, its name of "acetum." 

39 The people of Italy. 

40 The 10th of the calends of September, or 23rd August. 

4i Or " heath-honey." In the north of England the hives are purposely 
taken to the moors. . „ 

*» "Erice," "heather," seems to be a preferable reading to myrice, 
" tamarisk," which is adopted by Sillig. 

Chap. 15.] BEES. 15 

duced at the rising of Arcturus, beginning at the day 43 before 
the ides of September. Some persons delay the gathering of 
the summer honey until the rising of Arcturus, because from 
then till the autumnal equinox there are fourteen days left, 
and it is from the equinox till the setting of the Vergilise, a pe- 
riod of forty-eight days, that the heather is in the greatest abun- 
dance. The Athenians call this plant by the name of tetralix, u 
and the Eubceans sisirum, and they look upon it as affording 
great pleasure to the bees to browse upon, probably because 
there are no other flowers for them to resort to. This gather- 
ing terminates at the end of the vintage and the setting of 
the Vergiliae, mostly about the ides of November. 45 Expe- 
rience teaches us that we ought to leave for the bees two- 
thirds of this crop, and always that part of the combs as well, 
which contains the bee-bread. 

From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees 
are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourish- 
ment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, 
they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still 
keep ^within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions 
kept in reserve for this period. In Italy, however, they do 
this immediately after the rising of the Yergilia?, up to which 
period they are asleep. Some persons, when they take the 
honey, weigh the hive and all, and remove just as much as 
they leave : a due sense of equity should always be stringently 
observed in dealing with them, and it is generally stated that 
if imposed upon in this division, the swarm will die of grief. 
It is particularly recommended also that the person who takes 
the honey should be well washed and clean : bees have a par- 
ticular aversion, too, to a thief and a menstruous woman. When 
the honey is taken, it is the best plan to drive away the bees 
by means of smoke, lest they should become irritated, or else 
devour the honey themselves. By often applying smoke, too, 
they are aroused from their idleness to work ; but if they have 
not duly incubated in the comb, it is apt to become of a 
livid colour. On the other hand, if they are smoked too often, 
they will become tainted ; the honey, too, a substance which 
turns sour at the very slightest contact with dew, will very 

43 12th September. 

u "Tetralicem" seems preferable to " tamaricem." 

* 5 13th November. 

16 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 

quickly receive injury from the taint thus contracted : hence 
it is that among the various kinds of honey which are pre- 
served, there is one which is known by the name of acapnonJ* 


How bees generate their young has been a subject of great 
arid subtle research among the learned ; seeing that no one has 
ever witnessed 47 any sexual intercourse among these insects. 
Many persons have expressed an opinion that they must be 
produced from flowers, aptly and artistically arranged by 
Nature ; while others, again, suppose that they are produced 
from an intercourse with the one which is to be found in every 
swarm, and is. usually called the king. This one, they say, is 
the only male 48 in the hive, and is endowed with such ex- 
traordinary proportions, that it may not become exhausted 
in the performance of its duties. Hence it is, that no off- 
spring can be produced without it, all the other bees being 
females, 49 and. attending it in its capacity of a male, and not 
as their leader. This opinion, however, which is otherwise 
not improbable, is sufficiently refuted by the generation of the 
drones. For on what grounds could it possibly happen that 
the same intercourse should produce an offspring part of which 
is perfect, and part in an imperfect state? The first surmise 
which I have mentioned would appear, indeed, to be much 
nearer the truth, were it not the case that here another diffi- 
culty meets us — the circumstance that sometimes, at the ex- 
tremity of the combs, there are produced bees of a larger size, 
which put the others to flight. This noxious bee bears the 
name of cestrus, 50 and how is it possible that it should ever be 
produced, if it is the fact that the bees themselves form their 
progeny ? 51 

A fact, however, that is well ascertained, is, that bees sit, 53 
like the domestic fowl, that which is hatched by them at 

46 " Unsmoked " honey. 

47 It takes place while they are on the wing. 

48 The only prolific female, in reality. 

49 Some unprolific females and some males, in reality. 

bo Cuvier thinks that either hornets, or else the drones, must be alluded 
to. Virgil, Georg. B. iv. 1. 197, et seq., is one of those who think that 
bees are produced from flowers. 

51 I. e. from flowers. 

53 They arrange the eggs in the cells, but they cannot be said to sit. 

Chap. .16.] bees. \y 

first having the appearance of a white maggot, and lying across 
and adhering so tenaciously to the wax as to seem to be part of it. 
The king, however, from the earliest moment, is of the colour 
of honey, just as though he were made of the choicest flowers, 
nor has he at any time the form of a grub, but from the very 
first is provided with wings. 53 The rest of the bees, as soon 
as they begin to assume a shape, have the name of nympha^ 
while the drones are called sirenes, or cephenes. If a per- 
son takes off the head of either kind before the wings are 
formed, the rest of the body is considered a most choice morsel 
by the parents. In process of time the parent bees instil 
nutriment into them, and sit upon them, making on this occa- 
sion a loud humming noise, for the purpose, it is generally 
supposed, of generating that warmth which is so requisite for 
hatching the young. At length the membrane in which each 
of them is enveloped, as though it lay in an egg, bursts asunder, 
and the whole swarm comes to light. 

This circumstance was witnessed at the suburban retreat of 
a man of consular dignity near Rome, whose hives were made 
of transparent lantern horn : the young were found to be deve- 
loped in the space of forty-five days. In some combs, there is 
found what is known by the name of " nail" wax ; 55 it is bitter 
and hard, and is only met with when the bees have failed to 
hatch their young, either from disease or a natural sterility, 
it is the abortion, in fact, of the bees. The young ones, the 
moment they are hatched, commence working with their 
parents, as though in a course of training, and the newly-born 
king is accompanied by a multitude of his own age. 

That the supply may not run short, each swarm rears seve- 
ral kings ; but afterwards, when this progeny begins to arrive 
at a mature age, with one accord 56 they put to death the in- 
ferior ones, lest they should create discord in the swarm. 57 
There are two sorts of king bees ; those of a reddish colour are 
better than the black and mottled ones. The kings have 

53 This is not the fact. The queen bee commences as a larva, and that 
the larva of a working bee, Cuvier says, which, placed in a larger cell, 
and nurtured in a different manner, developes its sex and becomes the queen 
of the new swarm. 

54 They are then in the chrysalis state. 

55 "Clavus." 

56 It is the first hatched queen that puts the others to death. 

57 In consequence, really, of their pregnancy. 


19 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 

always a peculiar form of their own, and are double the size 
of any of the rest ; their wings are shorter 53 than those ot the 
others, their legs are straight, their walk more upright, and 
they have a white spot on the forehead, which bears some re- 
semblance to a diadem : they differ, too, very much from the 
rest of the community, in their bright and shining appearance. 


Let a man employ himself, forsooth, in the enquiry whether 
there has been only one Hercules, how many fathers Liber 
there have been, and all the other questions which are buried 
deep in the mould of antiquity! Here behold a tiny object, 
one to be met. with at most of our country retreats, and num- 
bers of which are always at hand, and yet, after all, it is not 
agreed among authors whether or not the king 59 is the only one 
among them that is provided with no sting, and is possessed 
of no other arms than those afforded him by his majestic office, 
or whether Nature has granted him a sting, and has only denied 
him the power of making use of it ; it being a well-known 
fact, that the ruling bee never does use a sting. _ The_ obedi- 
ence which his subjects manifest in his presence is quite sur- 
prising. When he goes forth, the whole swarm attends him, 
throngs about him, surrounds him, protects him, and will not 
allow him to be seen. At other times, when the swarm is at 
work within, the king is seen to visit the works, and appears 
to be giving his encouragement, being himself the only one 
that is exempt from work : around him are certain other bees 
which act as body-guards and lictors, the careful guardians of 
his authority. The king never quits the hive except when the 
swarm is about to depart ; a thing which may be known a long 
time beforehand, as for some days a peculiar buzzing noise 
is to be heard within, which denotes that the bees are waiting 
for a favourable day, and making all due preparations for their 
departure. On such an occasion, if care is taken to deprive the 
king of one of his wings, the swarm will not fly away. _ When 
they are on the wing, every one is anxious to be near him, and 
takes a pleasure in being seen in the performance of its duty. 
When he is weary, they support him on their shoulders ; and 

58 The greater size of the abdomen makes the wings look shorter. 
w The queen has a sting, like the working bees, but uses it less fre- 


when he is quite tired, they cany him outright. If one of them 
falls in the rear from weariness, or happens to go astray, it is 
able to follow the others by the aid of its acuteness of smell. 
Wherever the king bee happens to settle, that becomes the 
encampment of all. 



And then, too, it is that they afford presages both of private 
and public interest, clustering, as they do, like a bunch of 
grapes, upon houses or temples ; presages, in fact, that are often 
accounted for by great events. Bees settled upon the lips of 
Plato when still an infant even, announcing thereby the sweet- 
ness of that persuasive eloquence for which he was so noted. 
Bees settled, too, in the camp of the chieftain Drusus when 
he gained the brilliant -victory at Arbalo ; 60 a proof, indeed, 
that the conjectures of soothsayers are not by any means in- 
fallible, seeing that they are of opinion that this is always of 
evil augury. When their leader is withheld from them, the 
swarm can always be detained ; and when lost, it will disperse 
and take its departure to find other kings. Without a king, 
in fact, they cannot exist, and it is with the greatest reluct- 
ance that they put them to death when there are several ; they 
prefer, too, to destroy the cells of the young ones, if they find 
reason to despair of providing food ; in such case they then 
expel the drones. And yet, with regard to the last, I find that 
some doubts are entertained ; and that there are some authors 
who are of opinion that they form a peculiar species, like that 
bee, the very largest among them all, which is known by the 
name of the " thief," 61 because it furtively devours the honey ; 
it is distinguished by its black colour and the largeness of its 
body. It is a well-known fact, however, that" the bees are in 
the habit of killing the drones. These last have no king of 
their own ; but how it is that they are produced without a 
sting, is a matter still undetermined. 

In a wet spring the young swarms are more numerous ; in 
a dry one the honey is most abundant. If food happens to 

60 A place in Germany, where Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, gained 
a victory over the Germans : the locality is unknown. 
G1 " Fur." A variety, probablv, of the drone. 



fail the inhabitants of any particular hive, the swarm makes 
a concerted attack upon a neighbouring one, with the view of 
plundering it. The swarm that is thus attacked, at once 
ranges itself in battle array, and if the bee-keeper should 
happen to be present, that side which perceives itself favoured 
by him will refrain from attacking him. They often fight, 
too, for other reasons as well, and the two generals are t;o be 
seen drawing up their ranks in battle array against their op- 
ponents. The dispute generally arises in culling from the 
flowers, when each, the moment "that it is in danger, summons 
its companions to its aid. The battle, however, is immediately 
put an end to by throwing dust 62 among them, or raising a 
smoke ; and if milk or honey mixed with water is placed be- 
fore them, they speedily become reconciled. 


There are field bees also, and wild bees, ungainly in appear- 
ance, and much more irascible than the others, but remarkable 
for their laboriousness and the excellence of their work. Of 
domestic bees there are two sorts ; the best are those with 
short bodies, speckled all over, and of a compact round shape. 
Those that are long, and resemt}le the wasp in appearance, 
are an inferior kind ; and of these last, the very worst of all 
are those which have the body covered with hair. In Pontus 
there is a kind of white bee, which makes honey twice a 
month. On the banks of the river Thermodon there are 
two kinds found, one of which makes honey in the trees, the 
other under ground : they form a triple row of combs, and 
produce honey in the greatest abundance. 

Nature has provided bees with a sting, which is inserted in 
the abdomen of the insect. There are some who think that 
at the first blow which they inflict with this weapon they will 
instantly die, 63 while others, again, are of opinion that such is 
not the case, unless the animal drives it so deep as to cause 
a portion of the intestines to follow ; and they assert, also, 
that after they have thus lost their sting they become drones, 64 

62 So Virgil says — 

" Haec certamina tanta 

Pulveris exigui jactu compressa quiescent." — Georg. iv. 87. 

63 If it is left in tbe wound, the insect dies, being torn asunder. 

64 Of course this is fabulous, as the drones are males. 

Chap. 20.] THE DISEASES OF BEES. 21 

and make no honey, being thus castrated, so to say, and 
equally incapable of inflicting injury, and of making themselves 
useful by their labours. "We have instances stated of horses 
being killed by bees. 

They have a great aversion to had smells, and fly away 
from them ; a dislike which extends to artificial perfumes 
even. Hence it is that they will attack persons who smell 
of unguents. They themselves, also, are exposed to the 
attacks of wasps and hornets, which belong to the same class, 
but are of a degenerate 65 nature ; these wage continual warfare 
against them, as also does a species of gnat, which is known 
by the name of " mulio;" 66 swallows, too, and various other 
birds prey upon them. Frogs lie in wait for them when in 
quest of water, which, in fact, is their principal occupation 
at the time they are rearing their young. And it is not only 
the frog that frequents ponds and streams that is thus injuri- 
ous to them, but the bramble-frog as well, which will come 
to the hives even in search of them, and, crawling up to the 
entrance, breathe through the apertures ; upon hearing which, a 
bee flies to the spot, and is snapped up in an instant. It is 
generally stated that frogs are proof against the sting of the 
bee. Sheep, too, are peculiarly dangerous to them, as they 
have the greatest difficulty in extricating themselves from 
the fleece. The smell of crabs, 67 if they happen to be cooked in 
their vicinity, is fatal to them. 


Bees are also by nature liable to certain diseases of their 
own. The sign that they are diseased, is a kind of torpid, 
moping sadness : on such occasions, they are to be seen bring- 
ing out those that are sick before the hives, and placing them 
in the warm sun, while others, again, are providing them with 
food. Those that are dead they carry away from the hive, 
and attend the bodies, paying their last duties, as it were, in 
funeral procession. If the king should happen to be carried 
off by the pestilence, the swarm remains plunged in grief and 
listless inactivity ; it collects no more food, and ceases to issue 

65 Though helonging to the same class, they are not of degenerate kinds. 

66 The " mule-gnat." 

67 See Virgil, Georg. B. iv. 1. 27. 

22 pliny's natukal HISTOET. [Book XI. 

forth from its abode ; the only thing that it does is to gather 
around the body, and to emit a melancholy humming noise. 
Upon such occasions, the usual plan is to disperse the swarm 
and take away the body ; for otherwise they would continue 
listlessly gazing upon it, and so prolong their grief. Indeed, 
if due care is not taken to come to their aid, they will die of 
hunger. It is from their cheerfulness, in fact, and their 
bright and sleek appearance that we usually form an estimate 
as to their health. 

(19) There are certain maladies, also, which affect their 
productions ; when they do not fill their combs, the disease 
under which they are labouring is known by the name of 
c!aros, &s and if they fail to rear their young, they are suffering 
from the effects of that known as Mapsigonia.™ 


Echo, or the noise made by the reverberation of the air, 
is also injurious to bees, as it dismays them by its redoubled 
sounds ; fogs, also, are noxious to them. Spiders, too, are espe- 
cially hostile to bees; when they have gone so far as to build their 
webs within the hive, the death of the whole swarm is the result. 
The common and ignoble moth, 70 too, that is to be seen fluttering 
about a burning candle, is deadly to them, and that in more 
ways than one. It devours the wax, and leaves its ordure 
behind it, from which the maggot known to us as the " teredo " 
is produced ; besides which, wherever it goes, it drops the 
down from off its wings, and thereby thickens the threads of 
the cobwebs. The teredo is also engendered in the wood of 
the hive, and then it proves especially destructive to the wax. 
Bees are the victims, also, of their own greediness, for when 
they glut themselves overmuch with the juices of the flowers, in 
the spring season more particularly, they are troubled with 
flux and looseness. Olive oil is fatal 71 to not only bees, but 
all other insects as well, and more especially if they are placed 

68 The reading seems doubtful, and the meaning is probably unknown. 

69 " Injury of the young." 

7 " There are two kinds of hive-moth — the Phalsena tinea mellanella of 
Linnsus, and the Phaloena tortrix cereana. It deposits its larva in holes 
which it makes in the wax. 

71 In consequence of closing the stigmata, and so impeding their respi- 
ration. The same result, no doubt, is produced by the honey when smeared 
over their bodies. 


in the sun, after the head has been immersed in it. Some- 
times, too, they themselves are the cause of their own de- 
struction ; as, for instance, when they see preparations being 
made for taking their honey, and immediately fall to de- 
vouring it with the greatest avidity. In other respects they are 
remarkable for their abstemiousness, and they will expel 
those that are inclined to be prodigal and voracious, no less than 
those that are sluggish and idle. Their own honey even may 
be productive of injury to them ; for if they are smeared with 
it on the fore-part of the body, it is fatal to them. Such are 
the enemies, so numerous are the accidents — and how small a 
portion of them have I here enumerated ! — to which a crea- 
ture that proves so bountiful to us is exposed. In the appro- 
priate place 72 we will treat of the proper remedies ; for the 
present the nature of them is our subject. 

chap. 22. (20.) — how to keep bees to the hive. 
The clapping of the hands and the tinkling of brass afford 
bees great delight, and it is by these means that they are 
brought together ; a strong proof, in fact, that they are pos- 
sessed of the sense of healing. When their work is com- 
pleted, their offspring brought forth, and all their duties, ful- 
filled, they still have certain formal exercises to perform, ranging 
abroad throughout the country, and soaring aloft in the air, 
wheeling round and round as they fly, and then, when the 
hour for taking their food has come, returning home. The 
extreme period of their life, supposing that they escape acci- 
dent and the attacks of their enemies, is only seven years ; 
a hive, it is said, never lasts more than ten. 73 There are some 
persons, who think that, when dead, if they are preserved 
in the house throughout the winter, and then exposed to the 
warmth of the spring sun, and kept hot all day in the ashes 
of fig-tree wood, they will come to life again. 

chap. 23. — methods op renewing the swarm. 
These persons say also, that if the swarm is entirely lost, it 
may be replaced by the aid of the belly 74 of an ox newly killed, 

72 B. xxi. c. 42. 

73 Cuvier says that a hive has heen known to last more than thirty years : 
but it is doubtful if bees ever live so long as ten, or, except the queen, 
little more than one. 

™ Though Virgil tells the same story, in B. iv. of the Georgics, in rela- 
tion to the shepherd Aristieus, all this is entirely fabulous. 


covered over with dung. Yirgil also says 75 that this may be done 
with the body of a young bull, in the same way that the car- 
case of the horse produces wasps and hornets, and that of the 
ass beetles, Nature herself effecting these changes of one sub- 
stance into another. But in all these last, sexual intercourse 
is to be perceived as well, though the characteristics of the 
offspring are pretty much the same as those of the bee. 


"Wasps build their nests of mud in lofty places, 76 and make 
wax therein : hornets, on the other hand, build in holes or 
under ground. "With these two kinds the cells are also hex- 
agonal, but, in other respects, though made of the bark of trees, 
they strongly resemble the substance of a spider's web. Their 
young also are found at irregular intervals, and are of un- 
sbapely appearance ; while one is able to fly, another is still a 
mere pupa, and a third only in the maggot state. It is in 
the autumn, too, and not in the spring, that all their young are 
produced; and they grow during the full moon more par- 
ticularly. The wasp which is known as the ichneumon, 77 a 
smaller kind than the others, kills one kind of spider in parti- 
cular, known as the phalangium ; after which it carries the 
body to its nest, covers it over with a sort of gluey substance, 
and then sits and hatches from it its young. 78 In addi- 
tion to this, they are all of them carnivorous, while on the 
other hand bees will touch no animal substance whatever. 
Wasps more particularly pursue the larger flies, and after 
catching them cut off the head and carry away the remaining 
portion of the body. 

Wild hornets live in the holes of trees, and in winter, like 
other insects, keep themselves concealed ; their life does not 
exceed two years in length. It is not unfrequently that their 
sting is productive of an attack of fever, and there are authors 
who say that thrice nine stings will suffice to kill a man. Of 

">'" Georg. B. iv. 1. 284, et seq. 

76 Under roofs, and sometimes in the ground : hornets build in the hollows 
of trees. 

77 Called " Sphaex " by Linnaeus. 

78 The true version is, that after killing the insect they bury it Trith their 
eggs as food for their future young. 

Chap. 26.] THE SILK-WORM. 25 

the other hornets, which seem not to be so noxious, there are two 
kinds ; the working ones, which are smaller in size and die in 
the winter ; and the parent hornets, which live two years ; 
these last, indeed, are quite harmless. 79 In spring they build 
their nests, which have generally four entrances, and here it is 
that the working hornets are produced : after these have been 
hatched they form other nests of larger size, in which to bring 
forth the parents of the future generation. From this time 
the working hornets begin to follow their vocation, and apply 
themselves to supplying the others with food. The parent 
hornets are of larger size than the others, and it is very doubt- 
ful whether they have a sting, as it is never to be seen 
protruded. These races, too, have their drones. Some persons 
are of opinion that all these insects lose their stings in the 
winter. Neither hornets nor wasps have a king, nor do they 
ever congregate in swarms ; but their numbers are recruited by 
fresh offspring from time to time. 


A fourth class of this kind 80 of insect is the bombyx, 81 which 
is a native of Assyria, and is of larger size than any of those 
which have been previously mentioned. They construct their 
nests of a kind of mud which has the appearance of salt, and 
then fasten them to a stone, where they become so hard, that 
it is scarcely possible to penetrate them with a dart even. 
In these nests they make wax, in larger quantities than bees, 
and the grub which they then produce is larger. 



There is another class also of these insects produced in quite 
a different manner. These last spring from a grub of larger 
size, with two horns of very peculiar appearance. The 
larva then becomes a caterpillar, after which it assumes the 
state in which it is known as hombylis, then that called necy- 
dalus, and after that, in six months, it becomes a silk-worm. 82 

79 Cuvier says that it is the males, and not the females, that have no sting. 

80 What modern naturalists call the " Hymenoptera." 

81 Some kind of wasp, or, as Cuvier says, probably the mason bee. 

82 Called " bombyx " also ; though, as Cuvier remarks, of a kind al- 
together different from the preceding one. 

26 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

These insects weave webs similar to those of the spider, the 
material of which is used for making the more costly and 
luxurious garments of females, known as " bombycina." Pam- 
phile, a woman of Cos, 83 the daughter of Platea, was the first 84 
person who discovered the art of unravelling these webs and 
spinning a tissue therefrom ; indeed, she ought not to be de- 
prived of the glory of having discovered the art of making 
vestments which, while they cover a woman, at the same mo- 
ment reveal her naked charms. 



The silk-worm, too, is said to be a native of the isle of Cos, 
where the vapours of the earth give new life to the flowers 
of the cypress, the terebinth, the ash, and the oak which have 
been beaten down by the showers. At first they assume the 
appearance of small butterflies with naked bodies, but soon 
after, being unable to endure the cold, they throw out bristly 
hairs, and assume quite a thick coat against the winter, by 
rubbing off the down that covers the leaves, by the aid of 
the roughness of their feet. This they compress into balls 
by carding it with their claws, and then draw it out and 
hang it between the branches of the trees, making it fine 
by combing it out as it were : last of all, they take and roll it 
round their body, thus forming a nest in which they are enve- 
loped. It is in this state that they are taken ; after which 
they are placed in earthen vessels in a warm place, and fed 
upon bran. A peculiar sort of down soon shoots forth upon 
the body, on being clothed with which they are sent to work 
upon another task. The cocoons 85 which they have begun to 
form are rendered soft and pliable by the aid of water, and 
are then drawn out into threads by means of a spindle made of 
a reed. Nor, in fact, have the men even felt ashamed to make 
use 86 of garments formed of this material, in consequence of 

83 The first kinds of silk dresses worn by the Roman ladies were from 
this island, and, as Pliny says, were known by the name of Cm vestes. 
These dresses were so fine as to be transparent, and were sometimes dyed 
purple, and enriched with stripes of gold. They probably had their name 
from the early reputation which Cos acquired by its manufactures of silk. 

* This account is derived from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 19. 

85 "Lanificia." 

86 Early in the reign of Tiberius, as we learn from Tacitus, the senate 

Chap. 28.] SPIDERS. 27 

their extreme lightness in summer : for, so greatly have man- 
ners degenerated in our day, that, so far from wearing a cuirass, 
a garment even is found to be too heavy. The produce of the 
Assyrian silk- worm, however, we have till now left to the 
women only. 

chap. 28. (24.) — spiders ; the kinds that make webs ; the 
materials used by them in so doing. 

It is by no means an absurdity to append to the silk- worm 
an account of the spider, a creature which is worthy of our 
especial admiration. There are numerous kinds of spiders, how- 
ever, which it will not be necessary here to mention, from the 
fact of their being so well known. Those that bear the name 
of phalangium are of small size, with bodies spotted and run- 
ning to a point ; their bite is venomous, and they leap as they 
move from place to place. Another kind, again, is black, and 
the fore-legs are remarkable for their length. They have all of 
them three joints in the legs. The smaller kind of wolf-spider 87 
does not make a web, but the larger ones make their holes in 
the earth, and spread their nets at the narrow entrance thereof. 
A third kind, again, is remarkable for the skill which it dis- 
plays in its operations. These spin a large web, and the ab- 
domen suffices to supply the material for so extensive a work, 
whether it is that, at stated periods the excrements are largely 
secreted in the abdomen, as Democritus thinks, or that the 
creature has in itself a certain faculty of secreting 88 a peculiar 
sort of woolly substance. How steadily does it work with its 
claws, how beautifully rounded and how equal are the threads 
as it forms its web, while it employs the weight of its body as 
an equipoise ! It begins at the middle to weave its web, and 
then extends it by adding the threads in rings around, like a 
warp upon the woof: forming the meshes at equal intervals, 
but continually enlarging them as the web increases in breadth, 
it finally unites them all by an indissoluble knot. With what 
wondrous art does it conceal the snares that lie in wait 
for its prey in its checkered nettings ! How little, too, would 
it seem that there is any such trap laid in the compactness of 

enacted "ne vestis Serica viros faedaret" — "That men should not defile 
themselves by wearing garments of silk," Ann. B. ii. c. 33. 

87 The Aranea lupus of Linnseus. 

83 As Cuvier observes, he has here guessed at the truth. 

28 pllnt's natural histoex. Book XI. 

its web and the tenacious texture of the woof, which would 
appear of itself to be finished and arranged by the exercise of 
the very highest art ! How loose, too, is the body of the web 
as it yields to the blasts, and how readily does it catch all objects 
which come in its way ! You would fancy that it had left, 
quite exhausted, the thrums of the upper portion of its net 
unfinished where they are spread across ; it is with the great- 
est difiiculty that they are to be perceived, and yet the moment 
that an object touches them, like the lines of the hunter's net, 
they throw it into the body of the web. "With what archi- 
tectural skill, too, is its hole arched over, and how well de- 
fended by a nap of extra thickness against the cold ! How 
carefully, too, it retires into a corner, and appears intent upon 
anything but what it really is, all the while that it is so care- 
fully shut up from view, that it is impossible to perceive whe- 
ther there is anything within or not ! And then too, how ex- 
traordinary the strength of the web ! When is the wind ever 
known to break it, or what accumulation of dust is able to 
weigh it down ? 

The spider often spreads its web right across between two 
trees, when plying its art and learning how to spin ; and then, 
as to its length, the thread extends from the very top of the 
tree to the ground, while the insect springs up again in an 
instant from the earth, and travels aloft by the very self-same 
thread, thus mounting at the same moment and spinning 
its threads. When its prey falls into its net, how on the "alert 
it is, and with what readiness it runs to seize it ! Even 
though it should be adhering to the very edge of its web, the 
insect always runs instantly to the middle, as it is by these 
means that it can most effectually shake the web, and so suc- 
cessfully entangle its prey. When the web is torn, the 
spider immediately sets about repairing it, and that so neatly, 
that nothing like patching can ever be seen. The spider lies 
in wait even for the young of the lizard, and after enveloping 
the head of the animal, bites its lips ; a sight by no means 
unworthy of the amphitheatre itself, when it is one's good for- 
tune to witness it. Presages also are drawn from the spider ; 
for when a river is about to swell, it will suspend its web 
higher than usual. In calm weather these insects do not spin, 
but when it is cloudy they do, and hence it is, that a great 
number of cobwebs is a sure sign of showery weather. It is 

Chap. 30.] SCORPIONS. 29 

generally supposed that it is the female spider that spins, 
and the male that lies in wait for prey, thus making an equal 
division of their duties. 


Spiders couple 89 backwards, and produce maggots like eggs ; 
for I ought not to defer making some mention of this subject, 
seeing, in fact, that of most insects there is hardly anything 
else to be said. All these eggs they lay in their webs, but 
scattered about, as they leap from place to place while laying 
them. The pbalangium is the only spider that lays a con- 
siderable number of them, in a hole ; and as soon as ever 
the progeny is hatched it devours its mother, and very often 
the male parent as well, for that, too, aids in the process of 
incubation. These last produce as many as three hundred 
eggs, the others a smaller number. Spiders take three days 
to hatch their eggs. They come to their full growth in 
twenty-eight days. 

chap. 30. (25.) — SCORPIONS. 

In a similar manner to the spider, the land scorpion also pro- 
duces maggots 90 similar to eggs, and dies in a similar manner. 
This animal is a dangerous scourge, and has a venom like that 
of the serpent ; with the exception that its effects are far 
more 91 painful, as the person who is stung will linger for 
three days before death ensues. The sting is invariably 
fatal to virgins, and nearly always so to matrons. It is so 
to men also, in the morning, when the animal has issued from 
its hole in a fasting state, and has not yet happened to dis- 
charge its poison by any accidental stroke. The tail is always 
ready to strike, and ceases not for an instant to menace, so 
that no opportunity may possibly be missed. The animal 
strikes too with a sidelong blow, or else by turning the tail 

89 They copulate in a manner dissimilar to that of any other insects — 
the male fecundates the female by the aid of feelers, which he introduces 
into the vulva of the female situate beneath the anterior part of the 

90 Cuvier remarks, that the scorpion is viviparous ; but the young are 
white when born, and wrapped up in an oval mass, for which reason they 
may easily be taken for maggots or grubs. 

91 This must be understood of the scorpion of Egypt, Libya, and Syria. 
The sting of that of the south of Europe is not generally dangerous. 


upwards. Apollodorus informs us, that the poison which 
they secrete is of a white colour, and he has divided them into 
nine classes, distinguished mostly by their colours — to very 
little purpose, however, for it is impossible to understand 
which among these it is that he has pronounced to be the 
least dangerous. He says, also, that some of them have a 
double sting, and that the males — for he asserts that they are 
engendered by the union of the sexes — are the most dangerous. 
These may easily be known, he says, by their slender form 
and greater length. He states, also, that they all of them have 
venom in the middle of the day, when they have been warmed 
by the heat of the sun, as, also, when they are thirsty — their 
thirst, indeed, can never be quenched. It is an ascertained 
fact, that those which have seven joints in the tail are the 
most 92 deadly ; the greater part, however, have but six. 

For this pest of Africa, the southern winds have provided 
means of flight as well, for as the breeze bears them along, 
they extend their arms and ply them like so many oars in 
their flight ; the same Apollodorus, however, asserts that there 
are some which really have wings. 93 The Psylli, who for their 
own profit have been in the habit of importing the poisons of 
other lands among us, and have thus filled Italy with the pests 
which belong to other regions, have made attempts to import 
the flying scorpion as well, but it has been found that it 
cannot live further north than the latitude of Sicily. How- 
ever, they 94 are sometimes to be seen in Italy, but are quite 
harmless there ; they are found, also, in many other places, the 
vicinity of Pharos, in Egypt, for instance. In Scythia, the 
scorpion is able to kill the swine even with its sting, an animal 
which, in general, is proof against poisons of this kind in a 
remarkable degree. When stung, those swine which are black 
die more speedily than others, and more particularly if they 
happen to throw themselves into the water. When a person 
has been stung, it is generally supposed that he may be cured 
by drinking the ashes of the scorpion 95 mixed with wine. It 

92 Cuvier seems to regard this as fanciful : he says that the instances of 
seven joints are but rarely to be met with. 

93 There are no winged scorpions. Cuvier thinks that he may possibly 
allude to the panorpis, or scorpion-fly, the abdomen of which terminates 
in a forceps, wbicb resembles the tail of the scorpion. 

94 Probably the panorpis. 

95 See B. xxix. c. 29. 

Chop. 32.] THE GRASSHOPPER. 31 

is the belief also that there is nothing more baneful to the 
scorpion and the stellio, 96 than to dip them in oil. This last 
animal is also dangerous to all other creatures, except those 
which, like itself, are destitute of blood : in figure it strongly 
resembles the common lizard. For the most part, also, 
the scorpion does no injury to any animal which is bloodless. 
Some writers, too, are of opinion that the scorpion devours its 
offspring, and that the one among the young which is the most 
adroit avails itself of its sole mode of escape, by placing itself 
on the back of the mother, and thus finding a place where it 
is in safety from the tail and the sting. The one that thus 
escapes, they say, becomes the avenger of the rest, and at last, 
taking advantage of its elevated position, puts its parents to 
death. The scorpion produces eleven at a birth. 

CHAP, 31. (26.) — THE STELLIO. 

The stellio 97 has in some measure the same nature as the 
chameleon, as it lives upon nothing but dew, and such spiders 98 
as it may happen to find. 



The cicada 99 also lives in a similar manner, and is divided 
into two kinds. The smaller kind are born the first arid die 
the last, and are without a voice. The others are of the flying 
kind, and have a note ; there are two sorts, those known as 
achetcE, and the smaller ones called tettigonia : these last have 
the loudest voice. In both of these last-mentioned kinds, it is 
the male that sings, while the female is silent. There are na- 
tions in the east that feed upon these insects, the Parthians 

96 The starred or spotted lizard. 

97 The stellio of the Romans is the "ascalabos" or " ascalabotes " of 
the Greeks, the lizard into which Ascalahus was changed by Ceres : see 
Ovid, Met. B. v. 1. 450, et seq. Pliny also mentions this in B. xxix. c. 4, 
though he speaks of some difference in their appearance. It is a species 
of gecko, the tarentola of Italy, the tarente of Provence, and the geckotta, 
probably, of Lacepede. The gecko, Cuvier says, is not venomous ; but it 
causes small blisters to rise on the skin when it walks over it, the result, 
probably, of the extreme sharpness of its nails. 

98 See c. 28 of this Book, and B. viii. c. 95 ; B. xxx. c. 27. 

99 A general name for the grasshopper. Cuvier remarks, that Tliny is 
less clear on this subject than Aristotle_, the author from whom he has 

32 plint's NATURAL HISTOET. [Book XI. 

even, wealthy and affluent as they are. They prefer the 
male before it has had sexual intercourse, and the female 
after ; and they take 1 their eggs, which are white. They en- 
gender with the belly upwards. Upon the back they have 
a sharp-edged instrument, 2 by means of which they excavate 
a hole to breed in, in the ground. The young is, at first, 
a small maggot in appearance, after which the larva assumes 
the form in which it is known as the tettigometra? It bursts 
its shell about the time of the summer solstice, and then takes 
to flight, which always happens in the night. The insect, 
at first, is black and hard. 

This is the only living creature that has no mouth ; though 
it has something instead which bears a strong resemblance to 
the tongues of those insects which carry a sting in the mouth : 
this organ is situate in the breast 4 of the animal, and is em- 
ployed by it in sucking up the dew. The corselet itself forms a 
kind of pipe ; and it is by means of this that the achetse utter 
their note, as already mentioned. Beyond this, they have 
no viscera in the abdomen. When surprised, they spring 
upwards, and eject a kind of liquid, which, indeed, is our 
only proof that they live upon dew. This, also, is the only 
animal that has no outlet for the evacuations of the body. 
Their powers of sight are so bad, that if a person contracts 
his finger, and then suddenly extends it close to them, they 
will come upon it just as though it were a leaf. Some authors 
divide these animals into two kinds, the " surcularia," 5 which 
is the largest, and the " frumentaria," 6 by many known as the 
" avenaria;" 7 this last makes its appearance just as the corn is 
turning dry in the ear. 

(27.) The grasshopper is not a native of countries that are bare 
of trees — hence it is that there are none in the vicinity of the 
city of Cyrene — nor, in fact, is it produced in champaign coun- 

1 "Correptis" seems a preferable reading to "conrupti," that adopted 
by Sillig. 

2 The female has this, and employs it for piercing dead branches in which 
to deposit its eggs. 

3 The " mother of the grasshopper." 

4 The trunk of the grasshopper, Cuvier says, is situate so low down, that 
it seems to be attached to the breast. With it the insect extracts the juices 
of leaves and stalks. 

5 Or " twig-grasshopper." G Or " corn-grasshopper." 
7 Or " oat-grasshopper." 

Chap. 34.] THE BEETLE. 33 

tries, or in cool and shady thickets. They will take to some 
places much more readily than others. In the district of Miletus 
they are only to be found in some few spots ; and in Cephal- 
lenia, there is a river which runs through the country, on one 
side of which they are not to be found, while on the other 
they exist in vast numbers. In the territory of Ilhegium, 
again, none of the grasshoppers have any note, while be- 
yond the river, in the territory of Locri, 8 they sing aloud. 
Their wings are formed similarly to those of bees, but are 
larger, in proportion to the body. 

CHAP. 33. (28.) — THE WINGS OF INSECTS. 9 

There are some insects which have two wings, flies, for 
instance ; others, again, have four, like the bee. The wings 
of the grasshopper are membranous. Those insects which are 
armed with a sting in the abdomen, have four wings. None 
of those which have a sting in the mouth, have more than 
two wings. The former have received the sting for the pur- 
pose of defending themselves, the latter for the supplying of 
their wants. If pulled from off the body, the wings of an 
insect will not grow again ; no insect which has a sting in- 
serted in its body, has two wings only. 



Some insects, for the preservation of their wings, are covered 
with a crust ; 10 the beetle, for instance, the wing of which is 
peculiarly fine and frail. To these insects a sting has been 
denied by Nature ; but in one large kind 11 we find horns of a 
remarkable length, two-pronged at the extremities, and forming 
pincers, which the animal closes when it is its intention to 

8 The river Csecina. See B. iii. c. 15. This river is by Strabo, B. vi. 
c. 260, called the Alex. JElian has the story that the Locrian grasshop- 
pers become silent in the territory of Rhegium, and those of Rhegium m 
the territory of Locri, thereby implying that they each have a note in its 
own respective country. 

9 Cuvier says that the observations in this Chapter, derived from Aris- 
totle, are remarkable for their exactness, and show that that philosopher 
had studied insects with the greatest attention. 

10 Or sheath ; the Coleoptera of the naturalists. 

11 The flying stag-beetle, the Lucanus cervus of Linnaeus. 


34 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 

bite. These beetles are suspended from the neck of infants by 
way of remedy against certain maladies : Nigidius calls them 
"lucani." There is another kind 13 of beetle, again, which, 
as it goes backwards with its feet, rolls the dung into large 
pellets, and then deposits in them the maggots which form its 
young, as in a sort of nest, to protect them against the rigours 
of winter. Some, again, fly with a loud buzzing or a drony 
noise, while others 13 burrow numerous holes in the hearths 
and out in the fields, and their shrill chirrup is to be heard at 

The glow-worm, by the aid of the colour of its sides u and 
haunches, sends forth at night a light which resembles that of 
fire ; being resplendent, at one moment, as it expands its 
wings, 15 and then thrown into the shade the instant it has 
shut them. These insects are never to be seen before the grass 
of the pastures has come to maturity, nor yet after the hay has 
been cut. On the other hand, it is the nature of the black 
beetle 16 to seek dark corners, and to avoid the light : it is 
mostly found in baths, being produced from the humid vapours 
which arise therefrom. There are some beetles also, belonging 
to the same species, of a golden colour and very large size, which 
burrow n in dry ground, and construct small combs of a porous 
nature, and very like sponge ; these they fill with a poisonous 
kind of honey. In Thrace, near Olynthus, there is a small 
locality, the only one in which this animal cannot exist; 
from which circumstance it has received the name of " Can- 
tharolethus." 18 

The wings of all insects are formed without 19 any division in 

12 The dung-beetle, the Scarabaeus pilularius of Linnaeus. 

13 Various kinds of crickets. 

14 Cuvier says that it is on the two sides of the abdomen that the male 
carries its light, while the whole posterior part of the female is shining. 

15 In the glow-worm of France, the Lampyris noctiluca of Linnaeus, the 
female is without wings, while the male gives but little light. In that 
of Italy, the Lampyris Italica, both sexes are winged. 

15 " Blattae." See B. xxix. c. 39, where three kinds are specified. 

17 This beetle appears to be unknown. Cuvier suggests that the Scara- 
baeus nasicornis of Linnaeus, which haunts dead bark, or the Scarabaeus 
auratus may be the insect referred to. 

18 " Fatal to the beetle." _ 

19 Cuvier remarks that this assertion, borrowed from Aristotle, is incor- 
rect. The wings of many of the Coleoptera are articulated in the middle, 
and so double, one part on the other, to enter the sheath. 

Chap. 35.] LOCUSTS. 35 

them, and they none of them have a tail, 20 with the exception 
of the scorpion ; this, too, is the only one among them that has 
arms, 21 together with a sting in the tail. As to the rest of the 
insects, some of them have the sting in the mouth, the gad-fly 
for instance, or the " tabanus," as some persons choose to call 
it: the same is the case, too, with the gnat and some kinds of 
flies. All these insects have their stings situate in the mouth 
instead 22 of a tongue ; but in some the sting is not pointed, 
being formed not for pricking, but for the purpose of suction : 
this is the case more especially with flies, in which it is clear 
that the tongue 23 is nothing more than a tube. These insects, 
too, have no teeth. Others, again, have little horns pro- 
truding in front of the eyes, but without any power in them ; 
the butterfly, for instance. Some insects are destitute of wings, 
such as the scolopendra, for instance. 24 


Those insects which have feet, move sideways. Some of 
them have the hind feet longer than the fore ones, and curving 
outwards, the locust, for example. 

(29.) These creatures lay their eggs in large masses, in the 
autumn, thrusting the end of the tail into holes which they 
form in the ground. These eggs remain underground 
throughout the winter, and in the ensuing year, at the close 
of spring, small locusts issue from them, of a black colour, and 
crawling along without legs 25 and wings. Hence it is that a 
wet spring destroys their eggs, while, if it is dry, they mul- 
tiply in great abundance. Some persons maintain that they 
breed twice a year, and die the same number of times; that 
they bring forth at the rising 26 of the Vergiliae, and die at 
the rising of the Dog-star, 27 after which others spring up in 

< *° Cuvier remarks, that the panorpis has a tail very like that of the scor- 
pion ; and that the ephemera, the ichneumons and others, have tails also. 
Aristotle, in the corresponding place, only says that the insects do not use 
the tail to direct their flight. 

21 These are merely the feelers of the jaws. 

22 Not instead of, but in addition to, the tongue, by the aid of which 
they suck. 

23 Evidently meaning the trunk. 

24 See B. xxix. c. 39. 

25 It is not true that the young locusts are destitute of feet. 
2 * 7th May. 27 18ta j u i y . 

D 2 

35 plest's NATURAL HISTOET. [Book XI. 

their places : according to some, it is at the setting 28 of 
Areturus that the second litter is produced. That the mothers 
die the moment they have brought forth, is a well-known fact, 
for a little worm immediately grows about the throat, which 
chokes them : at the same time, too, the males perish as well. 
This insect, which thus dies through a cause apparently so 
trifling, is able to kill a serpent by itself, when it pleases, by 
seizing its jaws with its teeth. 29 Locusts are only produced in 
champaign places, that are full of chinks and crannies. In 
India, it is said that they attain the length of three 30 feet, and 
that the people dry the legs and thighs, and use them for saws. 
There is another mode, also, in which these creatures perish ; 
the winds carry them off in vast swarms, upon which they fall 
into the sea or standing waters, and not, as the ancients sup- 
posed, because their wings have been drenched by the damp- 
ness of the night. The same authors have also stated, that 
they are unable to fly during the night, in consequence of the 
cold, being ignorant of the fact, that they travel over lengthened 
tracts of sea for many days together, a thing the more to be won- 
dered at, as they have to endure hunger all the time as well, for 
this it is which causes them to be thus seeking pastures in other 
lands. This is looked upon as a plague 31 inflicted by the anger 
of the gods ; for as they fly they appear to be larger than they 
really are, while they make such a loud noise with their wings, 
that they might be readily supposed to be winged creatures of 
quite another species. Their numbers, too, are so vast, that they 
quite darken the sun ; while the people below are anxiously 
following them with the eye, to see if they are about to make 
a descent, and so cover their lands. After all, they have 
the requisite energies for their flight ; and, as though it had 
been but a trifling matter to pass over the seas, they cross im- 
mense tracts of country, and cover them in clouds which bode 
destruction to the harvests. Scorching numerous objects by 
their very contact, they eat away everything with their teeth, 
the very doors of the houses even. 

26 nth May. 

29 Cuvier treats this story as purely imaginary. 

30 Cuvier says that some have been known nearly a foot long, but not 

31 He alludes to tbe ravages committed by the swarms of the migratory 
locust, Grillus migratorius of Linnaeus. 

Chap. 36.] ANTS. 3/ 

Those from Africa are the ones which chiefly devastate 
Italy ; and more than once the Roman people have been obliged 
to have recourse to the Sibylline Books, to learn what remedies 
to employ under their existing apprehensions of impending 
famine. In the territory of Cyrenaica 32 there is a law, which 
even compels the people to make war, three times a year, 
against the locusts, first, by crushing their eggs, next by kill- 
ing the young, and last of all by killing those of full growth ; 
and he who fails to do so, incurs the penalty of being treated 
as a deserter. In the island of Lemnos also, there is a certain 
measure fixed by law, which each individual is bound to fill 
with locusts which he has killed, and then bring it to the 
magistrates. It is for this reason, too, that they pay such respect 
to the jack-daw, which flies to meet the locusts, and kills them 
in great numbers. In Syria, also, the people are placed under 
martial law, and compelled to kill them : in so many countries 
does this dreadful pest prevail. The Parthians look upon 
them as a choice food, 33 and the grasshopper as well. The voice 
of the locust appears to proceed from the back part of the head. 
It is generally believed that in this place, where the shoulders 
join on to the body, they have, as it were, a kind of teeth, and 
that it is by grinding these against each other that they pro- 
duce the harsh noise which they make. It is more especially 
about the two equinoxes that they are to be heard, in the 
same way that we hear the chirrup of the grasshopper about 
the summer solstice. The coupling of locusts is similar to 
that of all other insects that couple, the female supporting 
the male, and turning back the extremity of the tail towards 
him ; it is only after a considerable time that they separate. 
In all these kinds of insects the male is of smaller size than 
the female. 

chap. 36. (30.) — ants. - 

The greater part of the insects produce a maggot. Ants also 
produce one in spring, which is similar to an egg, u and they 

33 Julius Obsequens speaks of a pestilence there, created hy the dead 
bodies of the locusts, which caused the death of 8000 persons. 

33 See also B. vi. c. 35. 

34 "What are commonly called ants' eggs, are in reality their larvae and 
nymphse. Enveloped in a sort of tunic, these last, Cuvier says, are like 
grains of corn, and from this probably has arisen the story that they lay 

38 pliny's natural histoey. [Book XI. 

work in common, like bees; but whereas the last make their food, 
the former only store 35 it away. If a person only compares the 
burdens which the ants carry with the size of their bodies, he 
must confess that there is no animal which, in proportion, is 
possessed of a greater degree of strength. These burdens they 
carry with the mouth, but when it is too large to admit of 
that, they turn their backs to it, and push it onwards with 
their feet, while they use their utmost energies with their shoul- 
ders. These insects, also, have a political community among 
themselves, and are possessed of both memory and foresight. 
They gnaw each grain before they lay it by, for fear lest it 
should shoot while under ground ; those grains, again, which 
are too large for admission, they divide at the entrance of their 
holes ; and those which have become soaked by the rain, they 
bring out and dry. 36 They work, too, by night, during the 
full moon ; but when there is no moon, they cease working. 
And then, too, in their labours, what ardour they display, 
what wondrous carefulness ! Because they collect their stores 
from different quarters, in ignorance of the proceedings of one 
another, they have certain days set apart for holding a kind of 
market, on which they meet together and take stock. 37 What vast 
throngs are then to be seen hurrying together, what anxious 
enquiries appear to be made, and what earnest parleys 38 are 
going on among them as they meet ! We see even the very 
stones worn away by their footsteps, and roads beaten down 
by being the scene of their labours. Let no one be in doubt, 
then, how much assiduity and application, even in the very 
humblest of objects, can upon every occasion effect ! Ants are 
the only living beings, besides man, that bestow burial on the 
dead. In Sicily there are no winged ants to be found. 

(31.) The horns of an Indian ant, suspended in the temple 

up grains against the winter, a period through which in reality they do 
not eat. 

35 They stow away bits of meat and detached portions of fruit, to nourish 
their larvae with their juices. 

36 It is in reality their larvae that they thus bring out to dry. The 
working ants, or neutrals, are the ones on which these labours devolve : 
the males and females are winged, the working ants are without wings. 

37 " Ad recognitionem mutuam." 

38 Some modern writers express an opinion that when they meet, they 
converse and encourage one another by the medium of touch and smell. 

Chap. 37.] THE CHRYSALIS. 39 

of Hercules, at Erythraa, 39 have been looked upon as quite 
miraculous for their size. This ant excavates gold from holes, 
in a country in the north of India, the inhabitants of which are 
known as the DardaB, It has the colour of a cat, and is in 
size as large as an Egyptian wolf. 40 This gold, which it ex- 
tracts in the winter, is taken by the Indians during the heats 
of summer, while the ants are compelled, by the excessive 
warmth, to hide themselves in their holes. Still, however, 
on being aroused by catching the seent of the Indians, they 
sally forth, and frequently tear them to pieces, though pro- 
vided with the swiftest camels for the purpose of flight ; so 
great is their fleetness, combined with their ferocity and their 
passion for gold ! 

CHAP. 37. (32.) — THE CHRYSALIS. 

Many insects, however, are engendered in a different man- 
ner ; and some more especially from dew. This dew settles 
upon the radish 41 leaf in the early days of spring ; but when it 
has been thickened by the action of the sun, it becomes re- 
duced to the size of a grain of millet. From this a small grub 
afterwards arises, which, at the end of three days, becomes 
transformed into a caterpillar. For several successive days 
it still increases in size, but remains motionless, and covered 
with a hard husk. It moves only when touched, and is 
covered with a'web like that of the spider. In this state it 
is called a chrysalis, but after the husk is broken, it flies forth 
in the shape of a butterfly. 

39 See B. v. c. 31. 

40 M. de Yeltbeim thinks that by this is really meant the Canis corsac, 
the small fox of India, but that by some mistake it was represented by 
travellers as an ant. It is not improbable, Cuvier says, that some quadru- 
ped, in making holes in the ground, may have occasionally thrown up some 
grains of the precious metal. The story is derived from the narratives 
of Clearchus and Megasthenes. Another interpretation of this story has 
also been suggested. We find from some remarks of Mr. "Wilson, in the 
Transactions of the Asiatic Society, on the Mahabharata, a Sanscrit poem, 
that various tribes on the mountains Meru and Mandara (supposed to lie 
between Hindostan and Tibet) used to sell grains of gold, which they 
called paippilaka, or "ant-gold," which, they said, was thrown up by ants, 
in Sanscrit called pippilaJca. In travelling westward, this story, in itself, 
no doubt, untrue, may very probably have been magnified to its present 

41 Cuvier observes, that this is a very correct account of the cabbage 
or radish butterfly, the Papilio brassies or Papilio raphani of Linnaeus. 

40 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 


In the same manner, also, some animals are generated in 
the earth from rain, and some, again, in wood. And not only 
wood- worms 42 are produced in wood, but gad-flies also and 
other insects issue from it, whenever there is an excess of 
moisture ; just as in man, tape-worms 43 are sometimes found, 
as much as three hundred feet or more in length. 



Then, too, in dead carrion there are certain animals pro- 
duced, and in the hair, too, of living men. It was through 
such vermin as this that the Dictator Sylla, 44 and Alcman, 
one of the most famous of the Grecian poets, met their deaths. 
These insects infest birds too, and are apt to kill the pheasant, 
unless it takes care to bathe itself in the dust. Of the animals 
that are covered with hair, it is supposed that the ass and the 
sheep are the only ones that are exempt from these vermin. 
They are produced, also, in certain kinds of cloth, and more 
particularly those made of the wool of sheep which have been 
killed by the wolf. I find it stated, also, by authors, that 
some kinds of water 45 which we use for bathing are more pro- 
ductive of these parasites than others. Even wax is found to 
produce mites, which are supposed to be the very smallest of 
all living creatures. Other insects, again, are engendered 
from filth, acted upon by the rays of the sun — these fleas are 
called _ " petauristse," 46 from the activity which they display 
in their hind legs. Others, again, are produced with wings, 
from the moist dust that is found lying in holes and corners. 



There is an animal, 47 also, that is generated in the summer, 

42 Cossi. See B. xvii. c. 37. 43 Taenia?. 

44 He alludes to the Morbus pediculosus. 

45 Aristotle says, in the corresponding passage, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 26, 
that the animals which are affected by lice, are more particularly exposed 
to them when they change the water in which they wash. 

46 Or "leapers." 

47 He alludes to dog-ticks and ox-ticks, the Acarus ricinus of Linnaeus, 
and the Acarus reduvius of Schrank. 

Chap. 41.] MOTHS, ETC. 41 

which has its head always buried deep in the skin [of a beast], 
and so, living on its blood, swells to a large size. This is 
the only living creature that has no outlet 48 for its food; 
hence, when it has overgorged itself, it bursts asunder, and thus 
its very aliment is made the cause of its death. This insect 
never breeds on beasts of burden, but is very commonly 
seen on oxen, and sometimes on dogs, which, indeed, are sub- 
ject to every species of vermin. With sheep and goats, it 
is the only parasite. The thirst, too, for blood displayed by 
leeches, which we find in marshy waters, is no less singular ; 
for these will thrust the entire head into the flesh in quest of 
it. There is a winged insect 49 which peculiarly infests dogs, 
and more especially attacks them with its sting about the 
ears, where they are unable to defend themselves with, their 



Dust, too, is productive of worms 50 in wools and cloths, and 
this more especially if a spider should happen to be enclosed 
in them : for, being sensible of thirst, it sucks up all the mois- 
ture, and thereby increases the dryness of the material. These 
will breed in paper also. There is one kind which carries 
with it its husk, in the same manner as the snail, only that 
the feet are to be seen. If deprived of it, it does not survive ; 
and when it is fully developed, the insect becomes a chrysalis. 
The wild fig-tree produces gnats, 51 known as "ficarii;" and 
the little grubs of the fig-tree, the pear-tree, the pine, the 
wild rose, and the common rose produce cantharides, 52 when 
fully developed. These insects, which are venomous, carry 
with them their antidote ; for their wings are useful in 

48 In c. 32 he has said the same of the grasshopper", in relation to its 

49 A variety of the Cynips of Linnaeus, which in vast numbers will 
sometimes adhere to the ears of dogs. 

50 These are really the larvae of night-moths. His account here is 
purely imaginary. 

51 He speaks of the Cynips psenes of Linnaeus, which breeds on the 
blossom of the fig-tree, and aids in its fecundation. See B. xv. c. 21. 

53 He alludes to various coleopterous insects, which are not included 
among the Cantharides of the modern naturalists. They are first an egg, 
then a larva, then a nympha, and then the insect fully developed. 

42 pliny's natural histoby. [Book XI. 

medicine, 53 while the rest of the body is deadly. Again, 
liquids turned sour will produce other kinds of gnats, and 
white grubs are to be found in snow that has lain long on the 
ground, while those that lie above are of a reddish 54 colour — 
indeed, the snow itself becomes red after it has lain some 
time on the ground. These grubs are covered with a sort of 
hair, are of a rather large size, and in a state of torpor. 



That element, also, which is so destructive to matter, pro- 
duces certain animals ; for in the copper-smelting furnaces of 
Cyprus, in the very midst of the fire, there is to be seen flying 
about a four-footed animal with wings, the size of a large fly : 
this creature is called the " pyrallis," and by some the " py- 
rausta." So long as it remains in the fire it will live, but if it 
comes out and flies a little distance from it, it will instantly 


The Hypanis, a river of Pontus, brings down in its waters, 
about the time of the summer solstice, small membranous par- 
ticles, like a grape-stone in appearance ; from which there issues 
an animal 55 with four legs and with wings, similar to the one 
just mentioned. It does not, however, live more than a single 
day, from which circumstance it has obtained the name of 
'.' hemerobion." 56 The life of other insects of a similar nature 
is regulated from its beginning to its end by multiples of 
seven. Thrice seven days is the duration of the life of the 
gnat and of the maggot, while those that are viviparous live 
four times seven days, and their various changes and transforma- 
tions take place in periods of three or four days. The other 
insects of this kind that are winged, generally die in the 

k» See B. xsix. c. 30. 

64 The redness sometimes observed on the snow of the Alps and the 
Pyrenees, is supposed by De Lamarck to be produced by animalculae : 
other naturalists, however, suppose it to arise from vegetable or mineral 

55 Cuvier thinks that he alludes to a variety of the ephemera or the phry- 
ganea of Linnaeus, the case-wing flies, many of which are particularly 
short-lived. These are by no means peculiar to the river Bog or Hypanis. 

56 " Living for a day."" 


autumn, the gad-fly becoming quite blind 57 even before it dies. 
Flies which have been drowned in water, if they are covered 
with ashes, 58 will return to life. 



In addition to what is already stated, we will add an ac- 
count of every part of the body of an animal, taken limb by limb. 

All those which have blood, have a head as well. A small 
number of animals, and those only among the birds, have 
tufts of various kinds upon the head. The phoenix 59 has a 
long row of feathers on it, from the middle of which arises 
another row ; peacocks have a hairy tuft, resembling a bushy 
shrub ; the stymphalis 60 has a sort of pointed crest, and the 
pheasant, again, small horns. Added to these, there is the lark, 
a little bird, which, from the appearance of its tuft, was 
formerly called " galerita," but has since received the 
Gallic name of " alauda," 61 a name which it has transferred to 
one of our legions. 62 We have already made mention, also, 
of one bird 63 to which Nature has given a crest, which it can 
fold or unfold at pleasure : the birds of the coot kind 64 have 
also received from her a crest, which takes its rise at the 
beak, and runs along the middle of the head ; while the pie 
of Mars, and the Balearic crane, are furnished with pointed 
tufts. But the most remarkable feature of all, is the crest 
which we see attached to the heads of our domestic fowls, 
substantial and indented like a saw ; we cannot, in fact, 
strictly call it flesh, nor can we pronounce it to be cartilage 
or a callosity, but must admit that it is something of a nature 
peculiar to itself. As to the crests of dragons, there is no one 
to be found who ever saw one. 

57 They only appear to be so, from the peculiar streaks on the eyes. 
Linnaeus has hence called one variety, the Tabanus caecutiens. 

58 Or with pounded chalk or whitening. JElianadds, u if they are placed 
in the sun," which appears necessary for the full success of the experiment. 
Life appears to be suspended in such cases for a period of surprising length. 

69 Probably the golden pheasant, as already mentioned. 

60 Some kind of heron or crane, Cuvier thinks. 

61 The Alauda cristata of Linnaeus, so called from " galera," a pointed 
cap like a helmet. 

6 2 The fifth legion. 63 The hoopoe, B. x. c. 44. 

64 Savigny and Cuvier take this to be the Ardea virgo of Linnaeus, a 
native of Nuniidia. 

44 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 



Horns, too, of various forms have been granted to many- 
animals of the aquatic, marine, and reptile kind, but those 
which are more properly understood under that name belong 
to the quadrupeds only ; for I look upon the tales of Actseon 
and of Cippus even, in Latin story, as nothing more nor less than 
fables. 65 And, indeed, in no department of her works has 
Mature displayed a greater capriciousness. In providing ani- 
mals with these weapons, she has made merry at their ex- 
pense ; for some she has spread them out in branches, the 
stag, for instance ; to others she has given them in a more 
simple form, as in the " subulo," so called from the resem- 
blance of its horns to a " subula," 66 or shoemaker's awl. In 
others, again, she has flattened them in the shape of a man's 
hand, with the fingers extended, from which circumstance the 
animal has received the name of " platyceros." 67 To the roe- 
buck she has given branching horns, but small, and has made 
them so as not to fall off and be cast each year ; while to the 
ram she has given them of a contorted and spiral form, as 
though she were providing it with a csestus for offence. The 
horns of the bull, again, are upright and threatening. In this 
last kind, the females, too, are provided with them, while in 
most it is only the males. The chamois has them, curving 
backwards ; while in the fallow deer 68 they bend forward. 
The strepsiceros, 69 which in Africa bears the name of addax, has 
horns erect and spiral, grooved and tapering to a sharp point, 
so much so, that you would almost take them to be the sides 
of a lyre. 69 * In the oxen of Phrygia, the horns are moveable, 70 

65 The suddenness of their appearance, no doubt, was fabulous ; but we 
have well-authenticated cases in recent times of substances growing on the 
human head, to all appearance resembling horns, and arising from a dis- 
ordered secretion of the hair. Witness the case of Mary Davies, a so- 
called horn from whose head is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at 
Oxford. The story of Genucius Cippus, the Eoman praetor, is told by 
Ovid, Met. B. xv. 1. 565, et seq. 

66 A spitter, or second year stag, according to Cuvier. 

67 " Broad-horned." The Cervus dama of Linnaeus. 

63 " Dama." The Antelope redunca of Linnaeus, Cuvier thinks. 

69 No doubt a kind of antelope. 

69* u Lyras" seems preferable to "liras." 

70 There are several varieties of oxen, in which the horns adhere to the 
skin, and not to the cranium. 

Chap. 45.] YAltlOUS KINDS OF H011XS. 45 

like the ears ; and among the cattle of the Troglodyte, they 
are pointed downwards to the ground, for which reason it is 
that they are obliged to feed with the head on one side. 
Other animals, again, have a single horn, and that situate in 
the middle of the head, or else on the nose, as already 
stated. 71 

Then, again, in some animals the horns are adapted for 
butting, and in others for goring ; with some they are curved 
inwards, with others outwards, and with others, again, they 
are fitted for tossing : all which objects are effected in vari- 
ous ways, the horns either lying backwards, turning from, or 
else towards each other, and in all cases running to a sharp 
point. In one kind, also, the horns are used for the purpose 
of scratching the body, instead of hands. 

In snails the horns are fleshy, and are thus adapted for the 
purpose of feeling the way, which is also the case with the ce- 
rastes ; 72 some reptiles, again, have only one horn, though the 
snail has always two, suited for protruding and withdrawing. 
The barbarous nations of the north drink from the horns of the 
urus, 73 a pair of which will hold a couple of urnaa : 74 other 
tribes, again, point their spears with them. "With us they are 
cut into lamina?, upon which they become transparent ; indeed, 
the rays of a light placed within them may be seen to a much 
greater distance than without. They are used also for various 
appliances of luxury, either coloured or varnished, or else 
for those kinds of paintings which are known as " cestrota/' 75 
or horn-pictures. The horns of all animals are hollow within, 
it being only at the tip that they are solid : the only excep- 
tion is the stag, the horn of which is solid throughout, and 
is cast every year. When the hoofs of oxen are worn to the 
quick, the husbandmen have a method of curing them, by 
anointing the horns of the animal with grease. - The substance 
of the horns is so ductile, that even while upon the body of 
the living animal, they can be bent by being steeped in boil- 
ing wax, and if they are split down when they are first shoot- 
ing, they may be twisted different ways, and so appear to be 

71 B. 29—31. 

72 The Coluber cerastes ef Linnaeus. See B. via. c. 35. 

73 The drinking-horns of our Saxon ancestors are well known to the 

74 The "urna" was half an "amphora," or nearly three gallons. 

75 See B. xxsv. c. 41. 

46 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

four in number upon one head. In females the horns are gene- 
rally thinner than in the males, as is the case, also, with most 
kinds of wool-bearing animals. 

No individuals, however, among sheep, or hinds, nor yet 
any that have the feet divided into toes, or that have solid 
hoofs, are furnished with horns ; with the sole exception of 
the Indian ass, 76 which is armed with a single horn. To the 
beasts that are cloven-footed Nature has granted two horns, 
but to those that have fore-teeth in the upper jaw, she has 
given none. Those persons who entertain the notion that the 
substance of these teeth is expended in the formation of the 
horns, are easily to be refuted, if we only consider the case of 
the hind, which has no more teeth than the male, and yet 
is without horns altogether. In the stag the horn is only 
imbedded in the skin, but in the other 77 animals it adheres to 
the bone. 


The head of the fish is very large in proportion to the rest 
of the body, probably, to facilitate its diving under water. 
Animals of the oyster and the sponge kind have no head, 
which is the case, also, with most of the other kinds, whose 
only sense is that of touch. Some, again, have the head 
blended with the body, the crab, for instance. 


Of all animals man has the longest hair upon the head ; which 
is the case more especially with those nations where the men and 
women in common leave the hair to grow, and do not cut it. 
Indeed, it is from this fact, that the inhabitants of the Alps 
have obtained from us the name of " Capillati," 78 as also those 
of Gallia, " Comata." 79 There is, however, a great difference 
in this respect according to the various countries. In the 
island, of Myconus, 80 the people are born without hair, just 
as at Caunus the inhabitants are afflicted with the spleen 

76 The rhinoceros. See B. viii. c. 39. 

77 He surely must except the Phrygian oxen with the moveable horns, 
which he has previously mentioned. 

™ Or "long-haired." See B. iii. c. 7. 

" See B. iv. c. 31. 80 See B. iv. c. 22. 

Chap. 49.] THE BEALN. 4J 

from their birth. 81 There are some animals, also, that are natu- 
rally bald, such as the ostrich, for instance, and the aquatic 
raven, which last has thence derived its Greek 82 name. It is 
but rarely that the hair falls off in women, and in eunuchs 
such is never known to be the case ; nor yet does any person 
lose it before having known sexual intercourse. 83 The hair 
does not fall off below the brain, nor yet beneath the crown of 
the head, or around the ears and the temples. Man is the 
only animal that becomes bald, with the exception, of course, 
of such animals as are naturally so. Man and the horse are 
the only creatures whose hair turns grey ; but with man this is 
always the case, first in the fore-part of the head, and then in 
the hinder part. 


Some few persons only are double- crowned. The bones of 
the head are flat, thin, devoid of marrow, and united with su- 
tures indented like a comb. "When broken asunder they can- 
not be united, but the extraction of a small portion is not ne- 
cessarily fatal, as a fleshy cicatrix forms, and so makes good 
the loss. We have already mentioned, in their respective 84 
places, that the skull of the bear is the weakest of all, and 
that of the parrot the hardest. 


The brain exists in all animals which have blood, and in 
those sea animals as well, which we have already mentioned 
as mollusks, although they are destitute of blood, the poly- 
pus, for instance. Man, however, has, in proportion to his 
body, the most voluminous brain of all. This, too, is the 
most humid, and the coldest of all the viscera, and is enve- 
loped above and below with two membranous integuments, 
for either of which to be broken is fatal. In addition to these 
facts, we may remark that the brain is larger in men than in 

81 See B. v. c. 29. 

82 <Pa\aic()OKupaZ. See B. x. c. 68. 

83 He borrows this from Aristotle. 

84 B. viii. c. 54, and B. x. c. 58. The skull of the bear is not tbinner 
or weaker than that of other animals of its own size ; but tbe skull of the 
parrot, in proportion to those of other birds, is remarkably hard. 


women. In man the brain is destitute of blood and veins, and 
in other animals it has no fat. Those who are well informed 
on the subject, tell us that the brain is quite a different 
substance from the marrow, seeing that on being boiled it 
only becomes harder. In the very middle of the brain of 
every animal there are small bones found. Man is the only ani- 
mal in which it is known to palpitate 85 during infancy ; and 
it does not gain its proper consistency until after the child has 
made its first attempt to speak. The brain is the most ele- 
vated of all the viscera, and the nearest to the roof of the 
head ; it is equally devoid of flesh, blood, and excretions. The 
senses hold this organ as their citadel; it is in this that 
are centred all the veins which spring from the heart ; it is 
here that they terminate ; this is the very culminating point of 
all, the regulator of the understanding. With all animals it 
is advanced to the fore-part of the head, from the fact that 
the senses have a tendency to the direction in which we look. 
From the brain proceeds sleep, and its return it is that causes 
the head to nod. Those creatures, in fact, which have no brain, 
never sleep. It is said that stags 86 have in the head certain 
small maggots, twenty in number : they are situate in the 
empty space that lies beneath the tongue, and around the joints 
by which the head is united to the body. 



Man is the only animal the ears of which are immoveable. 
It is from the natural flaccidity of the ear, that the surname 
of Flaccus is derived. There is no part of the body that 
creates a more enormous expense for our women, in the 
pearls which are suspended from them. In the East, too, it 
is thought highly becoming for the men, even, to wear gold 
rings in their ears. Some animals have large, and others 
small ears. The stag alone has them cut and divided, as it 
were ; in the field-mouse they have a velvet surface. All the 
animals that are viviparous have ears of some kind or other, 
with the sole exception of the sea-calf, the dolphin, the fishes 

85 See B. vii. c. 1. 

66 Cuvier says that those are the larvae of the oestrus, which are deposited 
on the lips of quadrupeds, and so make their way to various cavities. 

Chap. 52.] THE EYES. 49 

which we have mentioned 87 as cartilaginous, and the viper. 
These animals have only cavities instead of ears, with the ex- 
ception of the cartilaginous fishes and the dolphin, which last, 
however, it is quite clear possesses the sense of hearing, for it is 
charmed by singing, and is often taken while enraptured with 
the melody : how it is that it does hear, is quite marvellous. 
These animals, too, have not the slightest trace of olfactory 
organs, and yet they have a most acute sense of smell. 

Among the winged animals, only the horned owl and the long- 
eared owl have feathers which project like ears, the rest having 
only cavities for the purpose of hearing ; the same is the case, 
also, with the scaly animals and the serpents. Among horses 
and beasts of burden of all kinds, it is the ears which indicate 
the natural feelings; when the animal is weary, they are droop- 
ing and flaccid ; when it is startled, they quiver to and fro ; 
when it is enraged, they are pricked up ; and when it is ailing, 
they are pendant. 


Man is the only creature that has a face, the other animals 
having only a muzzle or a beak. Other animals have a fore- 
head as well, but it is only on the forehead of man that is 
depicted sorrow, gladness, compassion, or severity. It is the 
forehead that is the index of the mind. Man has eyebrows, 
also, which move together or alternately ; these, too, serve in 
some measure as indications of the feelings. Do we deny or 
do we assent, it is the eyebrows, mostly, that indicate our 
intentions. Feelings of pride may be generated elsewhere, 
but it is here that they have their principal abode ; it is in the 
heart that they take their rise, but it is to the eyebrows that 
they mount, and here they take up their position. In no part 
of the body could they meet with a spot more lofty and more 
precipitous, in which to establish themselves free from all 



Below the forehead are the eyes, which form the most pre- 
cious portion of the human body, and which, by the enjoyment 

87 B. ix. c. 40. 

50 plint's natueal HISTORY. [Book XI. 

of the blessings of. sight, distinguish life from death. Eyes, 
however, have not been granted to all animals ; oysters have 
none, but, with reference to some of the shell-fish, the question 
is still doubtful ; for if we move the fingers before a scallop 
half open, it will immediately close its shell, apparently from 
seeing them, while the solen 88 will start away from an iron 
instrument when placed near it. Among quadrupeds the 
mole 89 has no sight, though it has something that bears a re- 
semblance to eyes, if we remove the membrane that is ex- 
tended in front of them. Among birds also, it is said that 
a species of heron, which is known as the "leucus," 9 ^ is 
wanting of one eye : a bird of most excellent augury, when 
it flies towards the south or north, for it is said that it 
portends thereby that there is about to be an end of perils and 
alarms. Nigidius says also, that neither locusts nor grass- 
hoppers have eyes. In snails, 91 the two small horns with which 
they feel their way, perform the duties of eyes. Neither the 
maw worm 93 nor any other kind of worm has eyes. 


The eyes vary in colour in the human race only ; in all 
other animals they are of one uniform colour peculiar to the 
kind, though there are some horses that have eyes of an azure 
colour. But in man the varieties and diversities are most 
numerous ; the eyes being either large, of middling size, re- 
markably small, or remarkably prominent. These last are 
g-enerally supposed to be very weak, while those which are 
deep-seated are considered the best, as is the case also with 
those which in colour resemble the eyes of the goat. 



In addition to this, there are some persons who can see to a 

f* Or razor-sheath. See B. x. c 88. _ . • 

89 Aristotle was of this opinion, hut Galen maintained that the mole can 

see Its eye is extremely small, and hard on the surface, 

so Or "white" heron. As Cuvier remarks, this is probably a mere 

"Tit is almost needless to remark, that both snails, as well as locusts and 
grasshoppers, have eyes. 
02 Lumbricus. 

Chap. 54.] THE THEORY OE SIOHT. :, \ 

very great distance, while there are others, again, who can only 
distinguish objects when brought quite close to them. The 
vision of many stands in need of the rays of the sun ; such 
persons cannot see on a cloudy day, nor yet after the sun has 
set. Others, again, have bad sight in the day-time, but a 
sight superior to that of others by night. Of persons having 
double pupils, or the evil eye, we have already spoken 93 at 
sufficient length. Blue 94 eyes are the best for seeing in the 

It is said that Tiberius Caesar, like no other human being, 
was so endowed by Nature, that on awaking in the night 95 he 
could for a few moments distinguish objects just as well as 
in the clearest daylight, but that by degrees he would find 
his sight again enveloped in darkness. The late Emperor 
Augustus had azure eyes like those of some horses, the white 
being larger than with other men ; he used to be very angr}- 
if a person stared intently at them for this peculiarity. Claudius 
Caesar had at the corners of the eyes a white fleshy substance, 
covered with veins, which would occasionally become suffused 
with blood; with the Emperor Caius 96 they had a fixed, steady 
gaze, while Nero could see nothing distinctly without wink- 
ing, and having it brought close to his eyes. The Emperor 
Caius had twenty pairs of gladiators in his training-school, 
and of all these there were only two who did not wink the 
eyes when a menacing gesture was made close to them : hence 
it was that these men were invincible. So difficult a matter is 
it for a man to keep his eyes from winking : indeed, to wink is 
so natural to many, that they cannot desist from it ; such per- 
sons we generally look upon as the most timid. 

No persons have the eye all of one colour; that of the 
middle of the eye is always different from the white which 
surrounds it. In all animals there is no part in the whole 
body that is a stronger exponent of the feelings, and in man 
more especially, for it is from the expression of the eye that 
we detect clemency, moderation, compassion, hatred, love, 
sadness, and joy. Erom the eyes, too, the various characters 
of persons are judged of, according as they are ferocious, me- 

93 B. vii. c. 2. 94 « Caesii." 

95 The same has been said also of Cardan, the elder Scaliger, Theodore 
Beza, the French physician Mairan, and the republican Camille Besmoulins. 

96 Caligula. 

E 2 

52 pliny's KATUEAL HISTOBT. [Book XI. 

nacin"-, sparkling, sedate, leering, askance, downcast, or lan- 
guishing. Beyond a doubt it is in the eyes that the mind has 
its abode : sometimes the look is ardent, sometimes fixed and 
steady, at other times the eyes are humid, and at others, again, 
half closed. From these it is that the tears of pity flow, and 
when we kiss them we seem to be touching the very soul. It 
is the eyes that weep, and from them proceed those streams 
that moisten our cheeks as they trickle down. And what is 
this liquid that is always so ready and in such abundance in 
our moments of grief, and where is it kept in reserve at other 
times ? It is by the aid of the mind that we see, by the aid 
of the mind that we enjoy perception; while the eyes, like so 
many vessels, as it were, receive its visual faculties and trans- 
mit them. Hence it is that profound thought renders a man 
blind for the time, the powers of sight being withdrawn from 
external objects and thrown inward: so, too, in epilepsy, the 
mind is covered with darkness, while the eyes, though open, 
are able to see nothing. In addition to this, it is the fact 
that hares, as well as many human beings, can sleep with 
the eyes open, a thing which the Greeks express by the term 
7t,opvJ3avriav. Nature has composed the eye of numerous mem- 
branes of 'remarkable thinness, covering them with a thick coat 
to ensure their protection against heat and cold. This coat she 
purifies from time to time by the lachrymal humours, and she 
has made the surface lubricous and slippery, to protect the eye 
against the effects of a sudden shock. 



In the midst of the cornea of the eye Nature has formed a 
window in the pupil, the small dimensions of which do not 
permit the sight to wander at hazard and with uncertainty, 
but direct it as straight as though it were through a tube, 
and at the same time ensure its avoidance of all shocks com- 
municated by foreign bodies. The pupils are surrounded by a 
black circle in some persons, while it is of a yellowish cast with 
others, and azure again with others. By this happy combina- 
tion the light is received by the eye upon the white that lies 
around the pupil, and its reflection being thus tempered, it 
fails to impede or confuse the sight by its harshness. So 
complete a mirror, too, does the eye form, that the pupil, 

Chap. 55.] THE NATUKE OF THE P^PIL. .03 

small as it is, is able to reflect the entire image of a man. 
This 97 is the reason why most birds, when held in the hand 
of a person, will more particularly peck at his eyes ; for seeing 
their own likeness reflected in the pupils, they are attracted to 
it by what seem to be the objects of their natural affection. 

It is only some few beasts of burden that are subject to 
maladies of the eyes towards the increase of the moon : but it 
is man alone that is rescued from blindness by the discharge 
of the humours 98 that have caused it. Many persons have 
had their sight restored after being blind for twenty years ; 
while others, again, have been denied this blessing from their 
very birth, without there being any blemish in the eyes. Many 
persons, again, have suddenly lost their sight from no apparent 
cause, and without any preceding injury. The most learned 
authors say that there are veins which communicate from the 
eye to the brain, but I am inclined to think that the communi- 
cation is with the stomach ; for it is quite certain that a person 
never loses the eye without feeling sickness at the stomach. It 
is an important and sacred duty, of high sanction among the 
Romans, to close 99 the eyes of the dead, and then again to open 
them when the body is laid on the funeral pile, the usage 
having taken its rise in the notion of its being improper that 
the eyes of the dead should be beheld by man, while it is an 
equally great offence to hide them from the view of heaven. 
Man is the only living creature the eyes of which are subject 
to deformities, from which, in fact, arose the family names of 
" Strabo" 1 and "Peetus." 2 The ancients used to call a man 
who was born with only one eye, " codes," and " ocella," a 
person whose eyes were remarkably small. " Luscinus" was 
the surname given to one who happened to have lost one eye 
by an accident. 

The eyes of animals that see at night in the dark, cats, for 
instance, are shining and radiant, so much so, "that it is impos- 
sible to look upon them ; those of the she-goat, too, and the 
wolf are resplendent, and emit a light like fire. The eyes of 
the sea-calf and the hyaena change successively to a thousand 

97 Hardouin with justice douhts the soundness of this alleged reason. 

98 He alludes, probably, to some method of curing cataract; perhaps 
somewhat similar to that mentioned by him in B. xx. c. 20. 

99 This was done by the nearest relatives. This usage still prevails in 
this country, the eyelids being pressed down with pieces of gold or silver. 

1 Or "squint-eyed." 2 Or'" cock-eyed." 

51 plint's nattjeal histoey. [Book XL 

colours ; and the eyes, when dried, of most of the fishes will 
give out light in the dark, just in the same way as the trunk 
of the oak when it has become rotten with extreme old age. 
"We have already mentioned 3 the fact, that animals which turn, 
not the eyes but the head, for the purpose of looking round, 
are never known to wink. It is said, 4 too, that the chame- 
leon is able to roll the eye-balls completely round. Crabs look 
sideways, and have the eyes enclosed beneath a thin crust. 
Those of craw-fish and shrimps are very hard and prominent, 
and lie in a great measure beneath a defence of a similar 
nature. Those animals, however, the eyes of which are hard, 
have worse sight than those of which the eyes are formed of a 
humid substance. It is said that if the eyes are taken away 
from the young of serpents and of the swallow, 5 they will grow 
again. In all insects and in animals covered with a shell, the 
eyes move just in the same way as the ears of quadrupeds do ; 
those among them which have a brittle 6 covering have the 
eyes hard. All animals of this nature, as well as fishes and 
insects, are destitute of eye-lids, and their eyes have no cover- 
ing ; but in all there is a membrane that is transparent like 
glass, spread over them. 


Man has lashes on the eye-lids on either side ; and women 
even make it their daily care to stain them ; 7 so ardent are they 
in the pursuit of beauty, that they must even colour their 
very eyes. It was with another view, however, that Nature 
had provided the hair of the eyelids— they were to have acted, 
so to say, as a kind of rampart for the protection of the sight, 
and as an advanced bulwark against the approach of insects 
or other objects which might accidentally come in their way. 
It is not without some reason that it is said that the eye- 
lashes 8 fall off with those persons who are too much given to 
venereal pleasures. Of the other animals, the only ones that 
have eyelashes are those that have hair on the rest of the 
body as well ; but the quadrupeds have them on the upper 

3 B. viii. c. 45. 4 B. viii. c. 51. 

s s ee b. xxv. c. 50. 6 Or crustaceous covering. 

" Kohl is stili used in the east for the same purpose. 

8 Aristotle says so, Hist. Anim. B. iii. c. 10. 

Chap. 59.] THE NOSTBILS. 55 

eyelid only, and the birds on the lower one : the same is the 
case also with those which have a soft skin, such as the serpent, 
and those among the quadrupeds that are oviparous, the lizard, 
for instance. The ostrich is the only one among the birds 
that, like man, has eyelashes on either side. 


All birds, however, have not eyelids: hence it is, that 
those which are viviparous have no nictation of the eye. 
The heavier kinds of birds shut the eye by means of the 
lower eyelid, and they wink by drawing forward a mem- 
brane which lies in the corner of the eye. Pigeons, and other 
birds of a similar nature, shut the two eyelids ; but the quad- 
rupeds which are oviparous, such, for instance, as the tortoise 
and the crocodile, have only the lower eyelid moveable, and 
never wink, in consequence of the hardness of the eye. The 
edge of the upper eyelid was by the ancients called " cilium," 
from which comes our word " supercilia. 9 " If the eyelid 
happens to be severed by a wound it will not reunite, 10 which 
is the case also with some few other parts of the human body. 


Below the eyes are the cheeks, a feature which is found 
in man only. From the ancients they received the name of 
" gense," and by the laws of the Twelve Tables, women were 
forbidden to tear them. 11 The cheeks are the seat of 
bashfulness ; it is on them more particularly that blushes are 
to be seen. 


"Within the cheeks is the mouth, which gives such strong 
indications of the feelings of joyousness and laughter ; and 
above it, but in man only, is the nose, which modern notions 
have stamped as the exponent of sarcasm and ridicule. 12 In 
no other animal but man, is the nose thus prominent ; birds, 
serpents, and fishes, have no nostrils, but apertures only for 
the purpose of smell. It is from the peculiarity of the nose 

9 " The eyebrows." ■ 

10 This is not the fact. 

11 "With their nails when mourning for the dead. 

12 Hence the word " nasutus," a sheering, captions, or sarcastic man. 

56 pliny's natural history. [Book XT, 

that are derived the surnames of " Sinius" 13 and " Silo." 
Children born in the seventh month often have the ears and 
the nostrils imperforate. 



It is from the "labia,'' or lips, that the Brocchi 14 have re- 
ceived the surname of Labeo. All animals that are viviparous 
have a mouth that is either well-formed, or harshly defined, 
as the case may be. Instead of lips and mouth, the birds 
have a beak that is horny and sharp at the end. With birds 
that live by rapine, the beak is hooked inwards, but with those 
which gather and peck only, it is straight : those animals, 
again, which root up grass or puddle in the mud, have the 
muzzle broad, like swine. The beasts of burden employ the 
mouth in place of hands in gathering their food, while those 
which live by rapine and slaughter have it wider than the 
rest. No animal, with the exception of man, has either chin 
or cheek-bones. The crocodile is the only animal that has the 
upper jaw-bone 15 moveable; among the land quadrupeds it is 
the same as with other animals, except that they can move it 



Teeth are arranged in three different ways, serrated, in one 
continuous row, or else protruding from the mouth. When 
serrated they unite together, just like those of a comb, in order 
that they may not be worn by rubbing against one another, as 
in serpents, fishes, and dogs, 16 for instance. In some creatures 
they are set in one continuous row, man and the horse, 
for instance; while in the wild boar, the elephant, and the 
hippopotamus, they protrude from the mouth. 17 Among those 
set in one continuous row, the teeth which divide the food 
are broad and sharp, while those which grind it are double ; 
the teeth which lie between the incisive and the molar 
teeth, are those known as the canine or dog-teeth; these 

13 " Flat-nosed," and " snub-nosed," 

14 A Roman family — the reading of this word seems doubtful. 

15 In reality, the under one only. 

15 He is incorrect in speaking of dogs as having serrated teeth. 
17 In the dugong also, babiroussa, muntjac, and others. 


are by far the largest in those animals which have serrated 
teeth. Those animals which have continuous rows of teeth, 
have them either situate on both sides of the mouth, as in 
the horse, or else have no fore-teeth in the upper part of the 
mouth, as is the case with oxen, sheep, and all the animals 
that ruminate. The she-goat has no upper teeth, except the 
two front ones. No animals which have serrated teeth, have 
them protruding ls from the mouth ; among these, too, the fe- 
males rarely have them ; and to those that do have them, they 
are of no 19 use: hence it is, that while the boar strikes, the 
sow bites. jSo animal with horns has projecting teeth ; and 
all such teeth are hollow, while in other animals the teeth are 
solid. All 20 fish have the teeth serrated, with the exception 
of the scarus, 21 this being the only one among the aquatic 
animals that has them level 22 at the edges. In addition to 
this, there are many fishes that have teeth upon the tongue 
and over the whole of the mouth, in order that, by the multi- 
tude of the bites which they inflict, they may soften those 
articles of food which they could not possibly manage by 
tearing. Many animals, also, have teeth in the palate, and 
even in the tail ; 23 in addition to which, some have them in- 
clining to the interior of the mouth, that the food may not 
fall out, the animal itself having no other means of retaining 
it there. 



The asp also, and other serpents, have similar teeth ; but in 
the upper jaw, on the right and left, they have two of extreme 
length, which are perforated with a small tube in the interior, 

18 The morse and the dugong are instances to the contrary. 

19 The females of the elephant, morse-, dugong, cheyrotin, and muntjac 
have tbem, and they are equally as useful as with the male, only, perhaps, 
not so strong. 

20 This is incorrect, unless he merely means ranged in one continuous 
line ; and even then he is in error. 

21 See B. ix. c. 29. This is called the parrot-fish, from the resemblance 
of its upper and lower jaws to the beak of a parrot. 

22 They present this appearance from being worn away at the surface. 

23 Rondelet would read'" gula," the throat. This, though repudiated 
by Hardouin, is approved of by Cuvier, who justly looks upon the ordinary 
reading as an absurdity. Many fish, he says, and more especially the 
osseous ones, have teeth in the pharynx. 

58 pliny's natural HISTORY. [Book XL 

just like the sting of the scorpion, and it is through these that 
they eject their venom. The writers who have made the most 
diligent enquiries on the subject, inform us that this venom is 
nothing but the gall of the serpent, and that it is conveyed 
to the month by certain veins which run beneath the spine ; 
indeed, there are some who state that there is only one poison- 
fang, and that being barbed at the end, it is bent backwards 
when the animal has inflicted a bite. Other writers, however, 
affirm that on such an occasion the fang falls out, as it is very 
easily displaced, but that it soon grows 24 again; this tooth, 
they say, is thus wanting in the serpents which we see 
handled about by persons. 25 It is also stated that this fang 
exists in the tail of the scorpion, and that most of these animals 
have no less than three. The teeth of the viper are concealed 
in the gums : the animal, being provided with a similar venom, 
exercises the pressure of its fangs for the purpose of instilling 
the poison in its bite. 

No winged creatures have teeth, with the sole exception of 
the bat. The camel is the only one among the animals with- 
out horns, that has no fore-teeth 26 in the upper jaw. None of 
the horned animals have serrated 27 teeth. Snails, too, have 
teeth ; a proof of which are the vetches which we find gnawed 
away by snails of the very smallest size. To assert that among 
marine animals, those that have shells, and those that are 
cartilaginous have fore-teeth, and that the sea-urchin has five 
teeth, I am very much surprised how such a notion could have 
possibly 28 arisen. With insects the sting supplies the place of 
teeth ; the ape has teeth just like those in man. 29 The elephant 

24 There is always one fang, at least, ready to supply the place of the one 
in front, if lost by "any accident. . . 

*s Like the jugglers of the East at the present day. But it is very 
doubtful whether the poison fang is in all instances previously extracted 
from the serpents which they handle. _ 

26 But the camel, as well as the lama, has an incisive hone, provided 
with an incisive tooth on each side, and has canine and molar teeth as well. 

« If by this term he means teeth separated from each other, the asser- 
tion is incorrect, as in these animals we find the. molars separated from the 
lower incisives by a very considerable space. 

28 Cuvier says, as far as the sea-urchin is concerned, very simply, and 
merely by looking at it, as its five teeth are very apparent. 

29 The incisors are in number, and very nearly in appearance, like those 
of man. The canines are different in shape, though similar in number. 
What he says about the elephant, is peculiar to that of India. 

Chap. 63.] THE TEETH. 59 

has in the interior of the mouth fourteen teeth, adapted for 
chewing, in addition to those which protrude ; in the male 
these are curved inwards, but in the female they are straight, 
and project outwards. The sea-mouse, 30 a fish which goes be- 
fore the balaena, has no teeth at all, but in place of them, the 
interior of the mouth is lined with bristles, as well as the tongue 
and palate. Amocg the smaller land quadrupeds, the two 
fore-teeth in each jaw are the longest. 



The other animals are born with 31 teeth, whereas man has 
them only at the seventh 32 month after his birth. While 
other 33 animals keep their teeth to the time of their death, 
man, the lion, the beasts of burden, the dog, and the rumi- 
nating animals, all change them ; the lion and the dog, how- 
ever, change none 34 but the canine teeth. The canine tooth of 
the wolf, on the right side, is held in high esteem as an amulet. 35 
There is no animal that changes the maxillary teeth, which 
stand beyond the canine teeth. With man, the last teeth, 
which are known as the " genuini," or cheek teeth, 36 come 
about the twentieth year, and with many men, and females as 
well, so late even as the eightieth ; but this only in the case 
of those who have not had them in their youth. It is a 
well-known fact, that the teeth are sometimes shed in old age, 
and replaced by others. Mucianus has stated that he, himself, 
saw one Zocles, a native of Samothrace, who had a new set of 
teeth when he was past his one hundred and fourth year. In 
addition to these facts, in man males have more teeth than 
females, 37 which is the case also in sheep, goats, and swine. 

30 See B. ix. c. 88. 

31 Very few other animals are born with teeth, hv their natural state. 
Apes, dogs, and cats are not horn with teeth. 

32 From the fourth to the eighth month in reality, during which the 
four central incisors appear. 

33 The only ones that do not change are those which have three molars 
on each side of the jaw. 

34 This is erroneous : they change the incisors and molars as well. 

35 See B. xxviii. c. 78. 

26 By us known as the "wisdom" teeth. 

,7 This is not the fact : they have usually the same number, hut there 
are exceptions on both sides. The same is also the case with sheep, goats, 
and swine. 

60 pliny's natural history. [Book XI. 

Timarchus, the son of Nicocles the Paphian, had a double 38 
row of teeth in his jaws : the same person had a brother also 
who never changed his front teeth, and, consequently, wore 
them to the very stumps. There is an instance, also, of a man 
having a tooth growing in the palate. 39 The canine teeth, 40 
when lost by any accident, are never known to come again. 
"While in all other animals the teeth grow of a tawny colour 
with old age, with the horse, and him only, they become whiter 
the older he grows. 



The age, in beasts of burden, 41 is indicated by the teeth. In 
the horse they are forty in number. At thirty months it 
loses the two fore-teeth in either jaw, and in the following year 
the same number next to them, at the time that the eye-teeth 42 
come. At the beginning of the fifth year the animal loses two 
teeth, which grow again in the sixth, and in the seventh it has 
all its teeth, those which have replaced the others, and those 
which have never been changed. If a horse is gelded 43 before 
it changes its teeth, it never sheds them. In a similar manner, 
also, the ass loses four of its teeth in the thirtieth month, and 
the others from six months to six months. If a she-ass hap- 
pens not to have foaled before the last of these teeth are shed, 
it is sure to be barren. 44 Oxen change their teeth at two years 
old: with swine they are never changed. 46 "When these 
several indications of age have been lost in horses and other 
beasts of burden, the age is ascertained by the projecting of 
the teeth, the greyness of the hair in the eyebrows, and the 
hollow pits that form around them ; at this period the animal 
is supposed to be about sixteen 46 years old. In the human 

38 This is not very uncommon. 

39 Not at all an uncommon occurrence. 

40 Of the second set. 

41 It is only in the horse and the ass that these indications can be re- 
lied upon. 42 Columellares. 

43 This has no such effect. 

44 The contrary is the case : it will he more prolific. 
43 Swine change them just the same as other animals. 

46 By certain appearances in the incisors, the age of a horse up to its 
twenty-fourth year, or even beyond, may be judged of: the other signs 
cannot be so positively relied upon. 

Chap. 65.] THE TONGUE. Gl 

teeth there is a certain venom ; for if they are placed uncovered 
before a mirror, the)' will tarnish its brightness, and they will 
kill young pigeons while yet unfledged. The other parti- 
culars relative to the teeth have been already 47 mentioned 
under the head of the generation of man. When teething 
first commences, the bodies of infants are subject to certain 
maladies. Those animals which have serrated teeth inflict the 
most dangerous bites. 48 



The tongue is not similarly formed in all animals. Ser- 
pents have a very thin tongue, and three-forked, 49 which they 
vibrate to and fro : it is of a black colour, and when drawn 
from out of the mouth, of extraordinary length. The tongue 
of the lizard is two-forked, and covered with hair. 50 That of 
the sea-calf also is twofold, 51 but with the serpents it is of the 
thinness of a hair ; the other animals employ it to lick the 
parts around the mouth. Fishes have nearly the whole of the 
tongue adhering to the palate, while in the crocodile the whole 
of it does adhere thereto : but in the aquatic animals the palate, 
which is fleshy, performs the duty of the tongue as the organ 
of taste. In lions, pards, and all the animals of that class, 
and in cats as well, the tongue is covered with asperities, 52 
which overlap each other, and bear a strong resemblance to a 
rasp. Such being its formation, if the animal licks a man's skin, 
it will wear it away by making it thinner and thinner ; for 
which reason it is that the saliva of even a perfectly tame 
animal, being thus introduced to the close vicinity of the blood, 
is apt to bring on madness. Of the tongue of the purple we 
have made mention 53 already. With the frog the end of the 
tongue adheres to the mouth, while the inner part is disjoined 
from the sides of the gullet ; and it is by this means that the 
males give utterance to their croaking, at the season at which 

47 B. viii. c. 15. 

48 " Stevissima dentibus," seems to he a preferable reading to " ssevissime 
dentiunt.'' 49 Only two-forked in reality. 

50 It is not covered with hair. 

51 It is not bifurcate. 

52 These are horny, conical papilla?, the summits of which point back- 
wards. 53 See B. ix. c. 60. 

62 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

they are known as ololygones. 54 This happens at stated periods 
of the year, at which the males invite the females for the 
purposes of propagation : letting down the lower lip to the 
surface of the water, they receive a small portion of it in the 
mouth, and then, by quavering with the tongue, make a gur- 
gling noise, from which the croaking is produced which we 
hear. In making this noise, the folds of the mouth, becoming 
distended, are quite transparent, and the eyes start from the 
head and burn again with the effort. Those insects which 
have a sting in the lower part of the body, have teeth, and a 
tongue as well ; with bees it is of considerable length, and in 
the grasshopper it is very prominent. Those insects which have 
a fistulous sting in the mouth, have neither tongue nor teeth ; 
while others, again, have a tongue in the interior of the mouth, 
the ant, for instance. In the elephant the tongue is remark- 
ably broad ; and while with all other animals, each according 
to its kind, it is always perfectly at liberty, with man, and 
him alone, it is often found so strongly tied down by certain 
veins, that it becomes necessary to cut them. "We find it 
stated that the pontiff Metellus had a tongue so ill adapted for 
articulation, that he is generally supposed to have voluntarily 
submitted to torture for many months, while preparing to 
pronounce the speech which he was about, to make on the de- 
dication of the temple of Opifera. 55 In most persons the 
tongue is able to articulate with distinctness at about the 
seventh year ; and many know how to employ it with such re- 
markable skill, as to be able to imitate the voices of various 
birds and other animals with the greatest exactness. The other 
animals have the sense of taste centred in the fore-part of the 
tongue ; but in man it is situate in the palate as well. 



In man there are tonsils at the root of the tongue ; these in 
swine are called the glandules. The uvula, 56 which is suspended 
between them at the extremity of the palate, is found only 
in man. Beneath this lies a smaller tongue, known by the 

54 "Criers." 

55 One of the titles of the goddess Fortuna. 

56 " Uva," or " grape." 

Chap. 67.] THE KECK. 63 

name of " epiglossis," 57 but it is wanting in animals that are 
oviparous. Placed as it is between two passages, the functions 
of the epiglottis are of a twofold nature. The one of these 
passages that lies more inward is called the [tracheal] artery, 
and Leads to the lungs and the heart : the epiglottis covers it 
during the action of eating, that the drink or food may not go 
the wrong way, and so be productive of suffering, as it is by 
this passage that the breath and the voice are conveyed. The 
other or exterior passage is called the "gula/' 56 and it is by 
this passage that the victuals and drink pass : this leads to the 
belly, while the former one communicates with the chest. 59 
The epiglottis covers the pharynx, in its turn, when only the 
breath or the voice is passing, in order that the victuals may 
not inopportunely pass upwards, and so disturb the breathing 
or articulation. The tracheal artery is composed of cartilage 
and flesh, while the gullet is formed of a sinewy substance 
united with flesh. 


The neck is found to exist in no animal but those which 
have both these passages. All the others which have the 
gullet only, have nothing but a gorge or throat. In those 
which have a neck, it is formed of several rounded vertebrae, 
and is flexible, and joined together by distinct articulations, to 
allow of the animal turning round the head to look. The 
lion, the wolf, and the hyaena are the only animals in which 
it is formed of a single 60 rigid bone. The neck is annexed to 
the spine, and the spine to the loins, The vertebral column 
is of a bony substance, but rounded, and pierced within, 
to afford a passage for the marrow to descend from the brain. 
It is generally concluded that the marrow is of the same nature 
as the brain, from the fact that if the membrane of exceeding 
thinness which covers it is pierced, death immediately ensues. 61 
Those animals which have long legs have a long throat as well, 

57 More generally " epiglottis." It is found in some few reptiles. This 
passage is omitted by Sillig. 

58 Gullet, or pharynx. . 

59 Stomachum. 

60 All these animals, on the contrary, have seven vertebrae. 

61 This is not the fact. The spinal marrow, even, may be wounded, 
without death being the immediate result. 

64 pltny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XI. 

which is the case also with aquatic birds, although they have 
short legs, as well as with those which have hooked talons. 

chap. 68. — the throat; the gullet; the stomach. 
Man only, and the swine, are subject to swellings in the 
throat, which are mostly caused by the noxious quality of the 
water 62 which they drink. The upper part of the gullet is called 
the fauces, the lower the stomach. 63 By this name is understood 
a fleshy concavity, situate behind the tracheal artery, and join- 
ing the vertebral column ; it extends in length and breadth 
like a sort of chasm. 64 Those animals which have no gullet 
have no stomach either, nor yet any neck or throat, fishes, for 
example ; and in all these the mouth communicates immedi- 
ately with the belly. The sea- tortoise 65 has neither tongue 
nor teeth ; it can break anything, however, with the sharp 
edge of its muzzle. After the tracheal artery there is the 
oesophagus, which is indented with hard asperities resembling 
bramble- thorns, for the purpose of levigatiug the food, the in- 
cisions 66 gradually becoming smaller as they approach the belly. 
The roughness at the very extremity of this organ strongly re- 
sembles that of a blacksmith's file 

chap. 69. — the heart; the blood ; the vital spirit. 

In all other animals but man the heart is situate in the 
middle of the breast ; in man alone it is placed just below 
the pap on the left-hand side, the smaller end terminating in 
a point, and bearing outward. It is among the fish only that 
this point is turned towards the mouth. It is asserted that 
the heart is the first among the viscera that is formed in the 
foetus, then the brain, and last of all, the eyes : it is said, too, 
that the eyes are the first organs that die, and the heart the 
very last of all. The heart also is the principal seat of the heat 
of the body ; it is constantly palpitating, and moves as though 
it were one animal enclosed within another. It is also enve- 

02 Snow-water, we know, is apt to produce goitre. 

63 " Stomachus." More properly, the oesophagus, or ventricle. 

s4 Lacunae modo. 

65 Or turtle. It has a tongue, and though it has no teeth, the jaws are 
edged with a horny substance like the bills of birds. 

d6 " Crenis" is read for " renis :" otherwise the passage is unintelligible : 
it is still most probably in a corrupt state. 


loped in a membrane equally supple and strong, and is pro- 
tected by the bulwarks formed by the ribs and the bone of 
the breast, as being the primary source and origin of life. It 
contains within itself the primary receptacles for the spirit and 
the blood, in its sinuous cavity, which in the larger animals is 
threefold, 67 and in all twofold at least : here it is that the 
mind 68 has its abode. From this source proceed two large 
veins, which branch into the fore-part and the back of the body, 
and which, spreading out in a series of branches, convey the 
vital blood by other smaller veins over all parts of the body. 
This is the only one 69 among the viscera that is not affected by 
maladies, nor is it subject to the ordinary penalties of human 
life; but when injured, it produces instant death. While all 
the other viscera are injured, vitality may still remain in the 


Those animals are looked upon as stupid and lumpish which 
have a hard, rigid heart, while those in which it is small are 
courageous, and those are timid which have it very large. 
The heart is the largest, in proportion to the body, in the 
mouse, the hare, the ass, the stag, the panther, the weasel, the 
hyaena, and all the animals, in fact, which are timid, or dan- 
gerous only from the effects of fear. In Paphlagonia the par- 
tridge has a double heart. In the heart of the horse and the 
ox there are bones sometimes found. It is said that the heart 
increases every year in man, and that two drachmae in weight 
are added 70 yearly up to the fiftieth year, after which period 
it decreases yearly in a similar ratio ; and that it is for this 
reason that men do not live beyond their hundredth year, the 
heart then failing them : this is the notion entertained by the 
Egyptians, whose custom it is to embalm the bodies of the 

s7 Among all the mamniiferae and the birds, the heart has four cavities, 
two on each side. 6S Mens. 

69 This is a mistake. The heart is subject to disease, equally with other 
parts of the body. 

70 In spite of what Schenkius says in confirmation of Pliny, this is 
very doubtful. Of course it must increase from childhood, but the in- 
crease surely does not continue till the fiftieth year. 


66 pliny's NATURAL EISTOET- [Book XI 

dead, and so preserve them. It is said that men have been 
born with the heart covered with hair, and that such persons 
are excelled by none in valour and energy ; such, for instance, 
as Aristomenes, 71 the Messenian, who slew three hundred 
Lacedaemonians. Being covered wuth wounds, and taken pri- 
soner, he, on one occasion, made his escape by a narrow hole 
which he discovered 72 in the stone quarry where he was im- 
prisoned, while in pursuit of a fox which had found that 
mode of exit. Being again taken prisoner, while his guards 
were fast asleep he rolled himself towards a fire close by, and, 
at the expense of his body, burnt off the cords by which he 
was bound. On being taken a third time, the Lacedaemonians 
opened his breast while he was still alive, and his heart was 
found covered with hair. 



On an examination of the entrails, to find a certain fatty 
part on the top of the heart, is looked upon as a fortunate 
presage. Still, however the heart has not always been con- 
sidered as forming a part of the entrails for this purpose. It 
was under Lucius Postumius Albinus, the King of the Sacri- 
fices, 73 and after the 126th Olympiad, when King Pyrrhushad 
quitted Italy, that the aruspices began to examine the heart, 
as part of the consecrated entrails. The first day that the 
Dictator Caesar appeared in public, clothed in purple, and sit- 
ting on a seat of gold, the heart was twice found wanting 74 
when he sacrificed. From this circumstance has risen a great 
question among those who discuss matters connected with 
divination — whether it was possible for the victim to have 
lived without that organ, or whether it had lost it at the very 
moment 75 of its death. It is asserted that the heart cannot be 

71 See an account of him in the Messeniaca of Pausanias. 

72 In this part of the story may have originated that of the escape of 
Sindhad the Sailor, when buried in the vault with the body of his wife. — 
See the "Arabian Nights." 

73 " Rex Sacrorum." This was a priest elected from the patricians, on 
whom the priestly duties devolved, which had been originally performed 
by the kings of Rome. He ranked above the Pontifex Maximus, but was 
possessed of little or no political influence. 

74 No doubt there was trickery in this. 

75 By supernatural agency. 

Chap. 73.] iH£ LIVER. 67 

burnt ^ of those persons who die of the cardiac disease ; and the 
same is paid of those who die by poison. At all events, there 
is still in existence an oration pronounced by Vitellius, 76 in 
which he accuses Piso of this crime, and employs this alleged 
fact as one of his proofs, openly asserting that the heart of 
Germanicus Caesar could not be burnt at the funeral pile, in 
consequence of his having been poisoned. On the other hand, 
the peculiar nature 77 of the disease under which Germanicus 
was labouring, was alleged in Piso's defence. 


Beneath the heart are the lungs, the laboratory in which 
the respiration is prepared. The use of these, is to draw in the 
air and then expel it ; for which purpose their substance is of 
a spongy nature, and filled with cavernous holes. Some few 
among the aquatic animals have lungs, as we have already 
stated ; 7S and among the rest of those which are oviparous, they 
are small, of a fungous nature, and containing no blood ; hence 
it is, that these animals do not experience thirst. It is for the 
same reason also, that frogs and seals are able to remain so 
long under water. The tortoise, too, although it has lungs of 
remarkable size, and extending throughout the whole of the 
shell, is also equally destitute of blood. The smaller the lungs 
are m proportion to the body, the greater is the swiftness of 
the animal. It is in the chameleon that the lungs are the 
largest in proportion to the body; in which, in fact, it has no 
other viscera at all. 79 


The liver is on the right side : in this part is situate what 
has been called the " head of the entrails," and it is subject 

76 This was P. Vitellius, who served under Germanicus in Germany 
He was one of the accusers of Cn. Piso, who was charged with having 
poisoned Germanicus. 

77 The cardiac disease, as alleged. 78 % [ x c 6 
79 But see B. viii. c. 51, and B. xxviii. c. 29. 

F 2 

CS pliny's natural histoby. [Book XI. 

to considerable variations. No liver 80 at all was found in a 
victim which was sacrificed by M. Marcellus, about the period 
when he was killed in battle against Hannibal ; while m a 
victim which was slain on the following day, a double liver 
was found. It was wanting, also, in a victim sacrificed by C. 
Marius, at Utica, and in one which was offered by the Emperor 
Caius 81 upon the calends of January, 81 * on the occasion of his en- 
tering the year of the consulship in which he wasslam: the 
same°thing happened, also, to his successor, Claudius, in the 
month in which he was cut off 82 by poison. When the late 
Emperor Augustus was sacrificing at Spoletum, upon the first 
day of his entering on the imperial dignity, in six different 
victims the liver was found rolled over within itself, from the 
very lowest lobe ; and the answer that was given by the diviners 
was to the effect that, in the course of the year, he would gam 
a twofold sway. It is of evil omen to find an incision m the 
head of the entrails, except on occasions of disquietude and 
alarm ; for then it is significant of cutting all cares, and so 
putting an end to them. The hares that are found in the 
vicinity of Briletum 83 and Tharne, and in the Chersonnesus 
on the Propontis, have a double liver; but, what is very 
singular, if they are removed to another place, they will lose 
one of them. 



In the liver is the gall, which, however, does not exist in 
every animal. At Chalcis, in Euboea, none of the cattle have 
it while in the cattle of the Isle of Naxos, it is of extraordi- 
nary size, and double, so that to a stranger either of these facts 
would appear as good as a prodigy. The horse, the mule, the 
ass, the stag, the roe-buck, the wild boar, the camel, and the 
dolphin have no gall, but some kinds of rats and mice have it. 

so Plutarch says that it was the "caput," or "head" of the liver that 
was wanting. M . Marcellus was slain while reconnoitring the Carthaginian 
camp by night. 

si Caligula. 81 1st of January. 

« By his niece and wife, Agrippina, the mother of Nero. 

sa See B. iv. c. 11. Tharne does not seem to be known. Of course, 
this story about the hares is fabulous. 


Some few men are without it, and such persons enjoy robust 
health and a long life. There are some authors who say that 
the gall exists in the horse, not in the liver, but in the paunch, 
and that in the stag it is situate either in the tail or the 
intestines ; and that hence it is, that those parts are so bitter 
that dogs will not touch them. The gall, in fact, is nothing 
else but the worst parts of the blood purged off, and for this 
reason it is that it is so bitter : at all events, it is a well-known 
fact, that no animal has a liver unless it has blood as well. 
The liver receives the blood from the heart, to which it is 
united, and then disperses it in the veins. 


When the gall is black, it is productive of madness in man, 
and if it is wholly expelled death will ensue. Hence it is, too, 
that the word " bile" has been employed by us to characterize 
a harsh, embittered disposition ; so powerful are the effects 
of this secretion, when it extends its influence to the mind. 
In addition to this, when it is dispersed over the whole of 
the body, it deprives the eyes, even, of their natural colour ; 
and when ejected, will tarnish copper vessels even, rendering 
everything black with which it comes in contact ; so that no 
one ought to be surprised that it is the gall which constitutes 
the venom of serpents. Those animals of Pontus which feed 
on . wormwood have no gall : in the raven, the quail, and the 
pheasant, the gall-bladder is united to the renal parts, and, on 
one side only, to the intestines. In many animals, again, it 
is united only to the intestines, the pigeon, the hawk, and the 
murena, for example. In some few birds it is situate in the 
liver ; but it is in serpents and fishes that it is the largest in 
proportion. With the greater part of birds, it extends all along 
throughout the intestines, as in the hawk and the kite. In 
some other birds, also, it is situate in the breast as well : the 
gall, too, of the sea-calf is celebrated for its application to many 
purposes. From the gall of the bull a colour is extracted like 
that of gold. The aruspices have consecrated the gall to Nep- 
tune and the influence of water. The Emperor Augustus 
found a double gall in a victim which he was sacrificing on 
the day of his victory at Actium. 



It is said, that in the small liver of the mouse the number 
of lobes corresponds to the day of the moon, and that they are 
found to be just as many in number as she is days old ; in 
addition to which, it is said that it increases at the winter sol- 
stice. In the rabbits of Bsetica, the liver is always found to 
have a double lobe. Ants will not touch one lobe of the liver 
of the bramble-frog, in consequence of its poisonous nature, it 
is generally thought. The liver is remarkable for its powers 
of preservation, and sieges have afforded us remarkable in- 
stances of its being kept so long as a hundred years. 84 


The entrails of serpents and lizards are of remarkable length. 
It is related that — a most fortunate omen — Csecina of Yolaterrse 
beheld two dragons arising from the entrails of the victim ; 
and this will not be at all incredible, if we are ready to believe 
that while King Pyrrhus was sacrificing, the day upon which 
he died, the heads of the victims, on being cut off, crawled 
along the ground and licked up their own blood. In man, the 
entrails are separated from the lower part of the viscera by a 
certain membrane, which is called the "prseeordia," 85 because 
it is extended in front of the heart ; the Greeks have given it 
the name of " phrenes." All the principal viscera have been 
enclosed by Nature, in her prudent foresight, in their own pe- 
culiar membranes, just like so many sheaths, in fact. With re- 
ference to the diaphragm, there was a peculiar reason for this 
wise provision of Nature, its proximity to the guts, and the 
chances that the food might possibly intercept the respiration. 
It is to this organ that is attributed quick and ready wit, and 
hence it is that it has no fleshy parts, but is composed of tine 
sinews and membranes. This part is also the chief seat of 
gaiety of mind, a fact which is more particularly proved by 
the ti filiation of the arm-holes, to which the midriff extends ; 

84 There must he some corrupt reading here ; for, as Sillig remarks, 
who ever heard of a siege which lasted a hundred years ? 

55 Or diaphragm; from "pree," "before," and " cor," the " heart." 

Chap. 79.] THE INTESTINES. 71 

indeed, in no part of the body is the skin more fine ; for this 
reason it is, also, that we experience such peculiar pleasure in 
scratching the parts in its vicinity. Hence it is, that in battles 
and gladiatorial combats, many persons have been known to 
be pierced through the midriff, and to die in the act of 
laughing. 80 



In those animals which have a stomach, below the diaphragm 
the belly is situate. In other animals it is single, but in 
those which ruminate it is double ; in those, again, which 
are destitute of blood, there is no belly, for the intestinal 
canal commences in some of them at the mouth, and returns to 
that part, as is the case with the saepia and the polypus. In 
man it is connected with the extremity of the stomach, and 
the same with the dog. These are the only creatures that 
have the belly more narrow at the lower part ; hence it is, 
too, that they are the only ones that vomit, for on the belly 
being rilled, the narrowness at its extremity precludes the food 
from passing ; a thing that cannot possibly be the case with 
the animals in which the belly is more capacious at the ex- 
tremity, and so leaves a free passage for the food to the lower 
parts of the body. 



After the belly we find in man and the sheep the " lactes,'' 87 
the place of which in other animals is occupied by the 
" hillae :" 68 it is through these organs that. the food passes. 
We then find the larger intestines, Avhich communicate with 
the anus, and which in man consist of extremely sinuous 
folds. Those animals which have the longest intestinal canal, 
are the most voracious ; and those which have the belly the 
most loaded with fat, are the least intelligent. There are 
some birds, also, which have two receptacles ; the one of 
which is the crop, in which they stow away the food which 

66 "With Sardonic laughter, as Hardouin remarks. 
, 87 Or small guts. 8s Or front intestines. 


they have just swallowed, while the other is the belly, into 
which they discharge the food when it is duly prepared 
and digested ; this is the case with the domestic fowl, the 
ring-dove, the pigeon, and the partridge. The other birds 
are in general destitute of crop, but then they have a more ca- 
pacious gorge, the jackdaw, the raven, and the crow, for in- 
stance : some, again, are constituted in neither manner, but 
have the belly close to the gorge, those, for instance, which 
have the neck very long and narrow, such as the porphyrio. 89 
In the solid-hoofed animals the belly is rough and hard, 
while in some land animals it is provided with rough asperi- 
ties like teeth, 90 and in others, again, it has a reticulated sur- 
face like that of a file. Those animals which have not the 
teeth on both sides, and do not ruminate, digest the food in 
the belly, from whence it descends to the lower intestines. 
There is an organ in all animals attached in the middle to 
the navel, and in man similar in its lower part to that of the 
swine, the name given thereto by the Greeks being " colon," 
a part of the body which is subject to excruciating pains. 91 
In dogs this gut is extremely contracted, for which reason it is 
that they are unable to ease it, except by great efforts, and not 
without considerable suffering. Those animals with which the 
food passes at once from the belly through the straight intestine, 
are of insatiate appetite, as, for instance, the hind- wolf, 92 and 
among birds the diver. The elephant has four 93 bellies ; the 
rest of its intestines are similar to those of the swine, and 
the lungs are four times as large as those of the ox. The belly 
in birds is fleshy, and formed of a callous substance. In that 
of young swallows there are found little white or pink pebbles, 
known by the name of " chelidonii," and said to be employed 
in magical incantations. In the second belly of the heiter 
there is a black tufa found, round like a ball, 94 and of no 
weight to speak of: this, it is generally thought, is singu- 

69 The coot, probably. 

90 He alludes to the papillae of the mucous gland. 

91 The colic. 

92 " Lupus cervarius." Probably the lynx. 

93 The belly of the elephant presents five transversal folds. 

94 See B. xxviii. c. 77. This substance, known by the name of egagro- 
pile, consists of the hair which the animal has swallowed when licking 
itself. It assumes a round form, in consequence of the action of the in- 

Chap. 81.] 


larly efficacious in laborious deliveries, if it happens not to 
have touched the ground. 

chap. 80. — the omentum: the spleen; animals which aee 

without it. 

The belly and the intestines are covered with a caul known 
as the "omentum," consisting of a fatty, thin membrane; 
except in the case of those animals which are oviparous. To 
this membrane is attached the spleen, which lies on the left 
side, and opposite the liver : sometimes, indeed, it changes 
place with the liver, but such a case is looked upon as nothing 
less than a prodigy. Some persons imagine that a spleen of 
extremely diminutive size exists in the oviparous animals, 
as also in serpents ; at all events, it is to be detected in the 
tortoise, the crocodile, the lizard, and the frog; though it 
is equally certain that it does not exist in the bird known as 
the " Eegocephalos," 95 nor yet in those animals which are des- 
titute of blood. The spleen sometimes offers a peculiar impe- 
diment in running, for which reason the region of the spleen 
is cauterized 96 in runners who are troubled with pains there. 
It is said also, that if the spleen is removed 97 by an incision, 
animals may survive. There are some persons who think 
that with the spleen man loses the power of laughing, and 
that excessive laughter is caused by the overgrowth of it. 
There is a territory of Asia, known as Scepsis," in which it is 
said that the spleen of the cattle is remarkably small, and 
that from thence it is that remedies for diseases of the spleen 
have been introduced. 

chap. 81. — the kidneys: animals which have four kid- 

About Briletum and Tharne 96 * the stags have four kidneys : 
while, on the other hand, those animals which have wings and 
scales have 99 none. The kidneys adhere to the upper part of 

» 5 Perhaps the godwit, or stone-plover, the Scolopax aegocephala of 

96 See also B. xxvi. c. S3. 

w This may be done with safety in dogs or other animals. 

*s See B. v. c. 32. 98 * See p. 68. 

99 This is not the case. Birds have kidneys, but of an irregular form. 

74 plint's natural history. [Book XT*. 

the loins. Among all animals, the kidney on the right side is 
more elevated than the other, less fat, and drier. In both kid- 
neys there is a certain streak of fat running from the middle, 
with the sole exception of those of the sea-calf. It is above 
the kidneys, also, that animals are fattest, and the accumula- 
tion of fat about them is often the cause of death in sheep. 
Small stones are sometimes found in the kidneys. All quad- 
rupeds that are viviparous have kidneys, but of those which 
are oviparous the tortoise is the only one that has them ; an 
animal which has all the other viscera, but, like man, has the 
kidneys composed, to all appearance, of several kidneys, similar 
to those of the ox. 

chap. 82. — the breast: the ribs. 

Nature has placed the breast, or, in other words, certain 
bones, around the diaphragm and the organs of life, but not 
around the belly, for the expansion of which it was necessary 
that room should be left. Indeed, there is no animal that 
has any bones around the belly. Man is the only creature 
that has a broad breast ; in all others it is of a carinated 
shape, in birds more particularly, and most of all, the aquatic 
birds. The ribs of man are only eight. in number; swine 
have ten, the horned animals thirteen, and serpents thirty. 


Below the paunch, on the anterior side, lies the bladder, 
which is never found in any oviparous animal, with the ex- 
ception of the tortoise, nor yet in any animal that has not 
lungs with blood, or in any one that is destitute of feet. 
Between it and the paunch are certain arteries, which extend 
to the pubes, and are known as the " ilia." In the bladder of 
the wolf there is found a small stone, which is called " syrites ;" 
and in the bladders of some persons calculi are sometimes 
found, which produce most excruciating pains ; small hairs, 
like bristles, are also occasionally found in the bladder. This 
organ consists of a membrane, which, when once wounded, does 
not 1 cicatrize, just like those in which the brain and the heart 
are enveloped : there are many kinds of membranes, in fact. 
1 This is a mistake. It does cicatrize. 



Women have all the same organs, except that adjoining to 
the bladder there is one like a small sac, 2 from which circum- 
stance it is called the " uterus." Another name for this partis 
" loci ;" 3 but in other animals it is known by the name of 
" vulva." "With the viper and other animals which generate 
their young within themselves, the wonib is double ; while 
with those which are oviparous, it is attached to the diaphragm. 
In woman it has two concavities, one on either side : when 
the matrix becomes displaced, it is productive of fatal effects, by 
causing suffocation. 4 It is asserted that the cow, when preg- 
nant, carries her young only in the right concavity of the womb, 
and that this is the case even when she produces twins. The 
womb of the sow is considered better eating if she has slipped her 
young, than if she has duly brought forth : in the former case 
it is known by the name of "ejectitia," in the latter it is 
called " porcaria." The womb of a sow that has farrowed only 
once is the most esteemed, and that of those which have 
ceased farrowing, the least. After farrowing, unless the ani- 
mal is killed the same day, the womb is of a livid colour, and 
lean. This part, however, is not esteemed in a young sow, 
except just after the first farrowing : indeed, it is much more 
highly valued in an animal of a more mature age, so long as it 
is not past breeding, or has been killed two days before far- 
rowing, or two days after, or upon the day on which it has 
miscarried. The next best after that of a sow that has mis- 
carried, is that of one that has been killed the day after far- 
rowing : indeed, the paps of this last, if the young have not 
begun to suck, are excellent eating, while those of an animal 
that has miscarried are very inferior. The ancients called this 
part by the name of " abdomen,''" before it grew hard, and 
were not in the habit of killing swine while in a state of 



Those among the horned animals which have teeth in one 

2 Or bag. 

8 "The (principal) place." 

4 Ajasson renders this passage : " The effects are fatal when this organ, 
becoming displaced, absorbs the air." The text is probably corrupt. 

76 plint's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book IX. 

jaw only, and pastern bones on the feet, produce tallow or 
suet. Those, on the other hand, which are cloven-footed, or 
have the feet divided into toes, and are without horns, have 
simple fat only. This fat becomes hard, and when quite 
cold turns brittle, and is always found at the extremity of the 
flesh ; while, on the other hand, the fat which lies between the 
skin and the flesh forms a kind of liquid juice. Some animals 
naturally do not become fat, such as the hare and the par- 
tridge, for instance. All fat animals, male as well as female, 
are mostly barren ; and those which are remarkably fat become 
old the soonest. All animals have a certain degree of fatness 
in the eyes. The fat in all animals is devoid of sensation, 
having neither arteries nor veins. "With the greater part of 
animals, fatness is productive of insensibility ; so much so, 
indeed, that it has been said, that living swine have been 
gnawed even by mice. 5 It has been even asserted that the fat 
was drawn off from the body of a son of L. Apronius, a man of 
consular rank, and that he was thus relieved of a burden which 
precluded him from moving. 


The marrow seems also to be formed of a similar material ; 
in the young it is of a reddish colour, but it is white in the 
aged. It is only found in those bones which are hollow, and 
not in the tibia? of horses or dogs ; for which reason it is, that 
when the tibia is broken, the bone will not reunite, a process 
which is effected 6 by the flow of the marrow. The marrow is 
of a greasy nature in those animals which have fat, and suetty 
in those with horns. It is full of nerves, and is found only in 
the vertebral column 7 in those animals which have no bones, 
fishes, for instance. The bear has no marrow; and the 
lion has a little only in some few bones of the thighs and 
the brachia, which are of such extraordinary hardness that 
sparks may be emitted therefrom, as though from a flint-st®ne. 

5 Varro, De Re Rust. B. ii. c. 4, says that he saw an instance of this in 

6 This is not the case. 

1 There is no similarity whatever between the spinal marrow and that 
which is found in the other bones. 

Chap. 88.] THE NERVES. 77 



The bones are hard, also, in those animals 8 which do not 
grow fat ; those of the ass are used by musicians for making 
flutes. Dolphins have bones, and not ordinary fish-bones ; for 
they are viviparous. Serpents, on the other hand, have bones 
like those of fish. Among aquatic animals, the mollusks 
have no bones, but the body is surrounded with circles of 
flesh, as in the seepia and the cuttle-fish, for instance ; insects, 
also, are said to be equally destitute of bones. Among aquatic 
animals, those which are cartilaginous have marrow in the 
vertebral column ; the sea-calf has cartilages, and no bones. 
The ears also, and the nostrils in all animals, when remarkably 
prominent, are made flexible by a remarkable provision of 
Nature, in order that they may not be broken. When cartilage 
is once broken, it will not unite ; nor will bone, when cut, grow 
again, except in beasts of burden, between the hoof and the 

Man increases in height till his twenty-first year, after 
which he fills out ; but it is more particularly when he first 
arrives at the age of puberty that he seems to have untied a 
sort of knot in his existence, and this especially when he has 
been overtaken by illness. 


The nerves 9 take their rise at the heart, and even surround 
it in the ox ; they have the same nature and principle as the 
marrow. In all animals they are fastened to the lubricous 
surface of the bones, and so serve to fasten those knots in the 
body which are known as articulations or joints, sometimes 
lying between them, sometimes surrounding "them, and some- 
times, running from one to another; in one place they are 
long and round, and in another broad, according as the ne- 
cessity of each case may demand. "When cut, they will not 

8 The hare and the partridge, for instance. 

9 There is considerable doubt wbat the ancients exactly meant by the 
"nervi ;" and whether, in fact, they had any definite idea of " nerves," in 
our acceptation of the word. Pliny here expresses tbe opinions entertained 
by Aristotle. " Tendons," or " sinews," would almost appear to be the proper 
translation of the word. 

78 plint's natueal HISTORY. [Book XI 

reunite, and if wounded, it is wonderful what excruciating 
pain they cause ; though, if completely cut asunder, they are 
productive of none whatever. Some animals are destitute of 
nerves, fish, for instance, the bodies of which are united by 
arteries, though even these are not to be found in the mol- 
lusks. Wherever there are nerves found, it is the inner ones 
that contract the limb, and the outer ones that extend it. 

Among the nerves lie concealed the arteries, which are 
so many passages for the spirit ; and upon these float the veins, 
as conduits for the blood. The pulsation of the arteries is 
more especially perceptible on the surface of the limbs, and 
afford indications of nearly every disease, being either statio- 
nary, quickened, or retarded, conformably to certain measures 
and metrical laws, which depend on the age of the patient, and 
which have been described with remarkable skill by Hero- 
philus, who has been looked upon as a prophet in the wondrous 
art of medicine. These indications, however, have been 
hitherto neglected, in consequence of their remarkable subtilty 
and minuteness, though, at the same time, it is by the observa- 
tion of the pulse, as being fast or slow, that the health of the 
body, as regulating life, is ascertained. 



The arteries are destitute of sensation, for they are devoid of 
blood. They do not, all of them, however, contain the vital 
spirit, and when one of them has been cut, it is only that part 
of the body that is reduced to a torpid state. Birds have 
neither veins nor arteries, which is the case also with serpents, 
tortoises, and lizards ; and they have but a very small propor- 
tion of blood. The veins, which are dispersed beneath the 
whole skin in filaments of extreme thinness, terminate with 
such remarkable fineness, that the blood is able to penetrate no 
further, or, indeed, anything else, except an extremely subtle 
humour which oozes forth from the skin in innumerable small 
drops, and is known to us as " sweat." The knot, and place 
of union of the veins, is the navel. 





Those animals in which the blood is more abundant and of 
an unctuous nature, are irascible ; it is darker in males than 
in females, and in the young than in the aged : the blood of the 
lower extremities is the thickest. There is great vitality, too, 
in the blood, and when it is discharged from the body, it 
carries the life with it : it is not sensible, however, of touch. 
Those animals in which the blood is the thickest are the most 
courageous, and those in which it is the thinnest the most 
intelligent ; while those, again, which have little or no blood are 
the most timorous of all. The blood of the bull coagulates and 
hardens the most speedily of all, and hence it is so particu- 
larly deadly 10 when drunk. On the other hand, the blood of 
the wild boar, the stag, the roe-buck, and oxen of all kinds, 
does not coagulate. Blood is of the richest quality in the ass, 
and the poorest in man. Those animals which have more than 
four feet have no blood. In animals which are very fat, the 
blood is less abundant than in others, being soaked up by the 
fat. Man is the only creature from which the blood flows at 
the nostrils ; some persons bleed at one nostril only, some at 
both, while others again void blood by the lower 11 parts. 
Many persons discharge blood from the mouth at stated periods, 
such, for instance, as Macrinus Viscus, lately, a man of prae- 
torian dignity, and Yolusius Saturninus, 12 the Prefect of the 
City, who every year did the same, and yet lived to beyond 
ninety. The blood is the only substance in the body that is 
sensible of any temporary increase, for a larger quantity will 
come from the victims if they happen to have drunk just 
before thev are sacrificed. 



Those animals which conceal themselves 13 at certain periods 
of the year, as already mentioned, have no blood at those times, 
with the exception, indeed, of some very small drops about the 

10 See B. xxviii. c. 41. 

11 In allusion, probably, to haemorrhoids, or piles. 

12 See B. vii. c. 12. 13 Bears, dormice, serpents, &c. 


heart. A marvellous dispensation of Nature ! and very similar 
to that witnessed in man, where the blood is sensible of various 
modifications from the slightest causes ; for not only, similarly 
to the bile, does it rush upwards to the face, but it serves also 
to indicate the various tendencies of the mind, by depicting 
shame, anger, and fear, in many ways, either by the paleness 
of the features or their unusual redness ; as, in fact, the red- 
ness of anger and the blush of modesty are quite different 
things. It is a well-known fact, that when a man is in fear, 
the blood takes to flight and disappears, and that many per- 
sons have been pierced through the body without losing one 
drop of blood ; a thing, however, which is only the case with 
man. But as to those animals which we have already men- 
tioned as changing 14 colour, they derive that colour from the 
reflection 15 of other objects ; while, on the other hand, man is 
the only one that has the elements which cause these changes 
centred in himself. All diseases, as well as death, tend to 
absorb the blood. 



There are some persons who are of opinion that the fineness 
of the wit does not depend upon the thinness of the blood, but 
that animals are more or less stupid in proportion to the skin 
or other coverings of the body, as the oyster and the tortoise, 
for instance : that the hide of the ox and the bristles of the hog, 
in fact, offer a resistance to the fine and penetrating powers of 
the air, and leave no passage for its transmission in a pure 
and liquid state. The same, they say, is the case, too, with 
men, when the skin is very thick or callous, and so excludes 
the air. Just as if, indeed, the crocodile was not equally re- 
markable for the hardness of its skin and its extreme cunning. 


The hide, too, of the hippopotamus is so thick, that lances, 16 
even, are turned from it, and yet this animal has the intelligence 
to administer certain medicaments to itself. The hide, too, of 

14 The polypus and the chameleon. 

15 See B. viii. cc. 51, 52. 

16 Walking-sticks are still made of it. 

Chap. 94.] THE HAIR. ETC 81 

the elephant makes bucklers that are quite impenetrable, and 
yet to it is ascribed a degree of intelligence superior to that of 
any quadruped. The skin itself is entirely devoid of sen- 
sation, and more particularly that of the head ; wherever it 
is found alone, and unaccompanied with flesh, if wounded, it 
will not unite, as in the cheek and on the eyelid, ls for 


Those animals which are viviparous, have hair ; those which 
are oviparous, have feathers, scales, or a shell, like the tor- 
toise ; or else a purple skin, like the serpent. The lower part 
of all feathers is hollow ; if cut, they will not grow again, but if 
pulled out, they will shoot afresh. Insects fly by the aid of a 
frail membrane ; the wings of the fish 19 called the "swallow" are 
moistened in the sea, while those of the bat which frequents 
our houses are dry ; the wings of this last animal have certain 
articulations as well. The hairs that issue from a thick skin 
are rough, while those on females are of a finer quality. Those 
found on the horse's mane are more abundant, which is the 
case also with the shoulders of the lion. The dasypus lias 
hair in the inside of the mouth even and under the feet/ two 
features which Trogus has also attributed to the hare ; from 
which the same author concludes that hairy men are the most 
prone to lust. The most hairy of all animals is the hare. 
Man is the only creature that has hair as the mark of puberty ; 
and a person who is devoid of this, whether male or female, 
is sure to be sterile. The hair of man is partly born with 
him, and in part produced after his birth. The last kind of hair 
will not grow upon eunuchs, though that which has been born 
with them does not fall off; which is the case also with 
women, in a great degree. Still however, there have been 
women known to be afflicted with falling off of the hair, just 
as some are to be seen with a fine down on the face, after the 
cessation of the menstrual discharge. In some men the hair 
that mostly shoots forth after birth will not grow spontane- 
ously. The hair of quadrupeds comes off every year, and 

ls As already mentioned, this is not the fact. 
19 See B. ix*. c. 43. 

VOL. in. 


82 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

grows again. That of the head in man grows the fastest, and 
nest to it the hair of the beard. When cut, the hairs shoot, 
not from the place where they have been cut, as is the case 
with grass, but at the root. The hah' grows quickly in cer- 
tain diseases, phthisis more particularly ; it grows also with 
rapidity in old age, and on the body after death. In persons 
of a libidinous tendency the hair that is produced at birth falls 
off more speedily, while that which is afterwards produced 
grows with the greatest rapidity. In quadrupeds, the hair 
grows thicker in old age ; but on those with wool, it becomes 
thinner. Those quadrupeds which have thick hair on the 
back, have the belly quite smooth. From the hides of oxen, 
and that of the bull more especially, glue is extracted by 



Man is the only male among animals that has nipples, all 
the rest having mere marks only in place of them. Among 
female animals even, the only ones that have mammseon the 
breast are those which can nurture their young. No oviparous 
animal has mammse, and those only have milk that are vivi- 
parous ; the bat being the only winged animal that has it. As 
for the stories that they tell, about the screech-owl ejecting milk 
from its teats upon the lips of infants, I look upon it as utterly 
fabulous : from ancient times the name " strix," 20 1 am aware, 
has been employed in maledictions, but I do not think it is 
well ascertained what bird is really meant by that name. 

(40.) The female ass is troubled with pains in the teats 
after it has foaled, and it is for that reason that at the end of 
six months it weans its young ; while the mare suckles its 
young for nearly the whole year. The solid-hoofed animals 
do not bear more than two young ones at a time : they all of 
them have two paps, and nowhere but between the hind legs. 
Animals with cloven feet and with horns, such as the cow, for 
instance, have four paps, similarly situate, sheep and goats two. 

20 It is not improbable that, under tbis name, some kind of large vam- 
pire bat was meant; but, as Pliny says, it is impossible to arrive at any 
certain knowledge on the subject. The best account given of the strix is 
that in Ovid's Fasti, B. vi. The name was given opprobiously to supposed 
witches, the " foul and midnight hags " of Shakspeare. 

Chap. 96.] THE MILE. 83 

Those which produce a more numerous progeny, and those 
which have toes on the feet, have a greater number of paps dis- 
tributed in a double row all along the belly, such as the 
sow, for instance j the better sorts have twelve, the more 
common ones two less : the same is the case also with the 
female of the dog. Other animals, again, have four paps situate 
in the middle of the belly, as the female panther; others, again, 
two only, as the lioness. The female elephant has two only, 
situate between the shoulders, and those not in the breast, but 
without it, and hidden in the arm-pits : none of the animals 
which have toes have the paps between the hind legs. The sow 
presents the first teat to the first-born in each farrow, the first 
teat being the one that is situate nearest to the throat. Each 
pig, too, knows its own teat, according to the order in which 
it was born, and draws its nourishment from that and no other : 
if its own suckling, too, should happen to be withdrawn from 
any one of them, the pap will immediately dry up, and shrink 
back within the belly : if there should be only one pig left 
of all the farrow, that pap alone which has been assigned for 
its nutriment when born, will continue to hang down for the 
purpose of giving suck. The she-bear has four mammae, the 
dolphin only two, at the bottom of the belly ; they are not 
easily visible, and have a somewhat oblique direction : this is 
the only animal which gives suck while in motion. The balsena 
and sea-calf also suckle their young by teats. 



The milk that is secreted in a woman before her seventh 
month is useless ; but after that month, so long as the foetus 
is healthy, the milk is wholesome : many women, indeed, 
are so full of milk, that it will flow not only from the mammas, 
but exudes at the arm-pits even. 21 Camels continue in milk 
until they are pregnant again. Their milk, mixed in the pro- 
portion of one part to three of water, is considered a very 
pleasant beverage. The cow has no milk before it has calved, 
and that which immediately follows upon its bringing forth is 
known as the " colostra : " 22 if water is not mixed with it, it will 

21 This assertion is borrowed from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vii. e. 14. 
82 Or biestings. 

G 2 


coagulate, and assume the hardness of pumice. She-asses, as 
socn as they are pregnant, have milk in their udders ; when 
the pasturage is rich, it is fatal to their young to taste the 
mother's milk the first two days after birth ; the kind of 
malady by which they are attacked is known by the name 
of " colostration." Cheese cannot be made from the milk of 
animals which have teeth on either jaw, from the circumstance 
that their milk does not coagulate. The thinnest milk of all 
is that of the camel, and next to it that of the mare. The milk 
of the she- ass is the richest of all, so much so, indeed, that it is 
often used instead of rennet. Asses' milk is also thought to 
be very efficacious in whitening the skin of females : at all 
events, Popptea, 23 the wife of Domitius Nero, used always to 
have with her five hundred asses with foal, and used to bathe 
the whole of her body in their milk, thinking that it alsp con- 
ferred additional suppleness on the skin. All milk thickens 
by the action of fire, and becomes serous when exposed to cold. 
The milk of the cow produces more cheese than that of the 
goat : when equal in quantity, it will produce nearly twice the 
weight. The milk of animals which have more than four 
mammas does not produce cheese ; and that is the best which is 
made of the milk of those that have but two. The rennet of 
the fawn, the hare, and the kid is the most esteemed, but the 
best of all is that of the dasypus : this last acts as a specific 
for diarrhoea, that animal being the only one with teeth in 
both jaws, the rennet of which has that property. It is a re- 
markable circumstance, that the barbarous nations which sub- 
sist on milk have been for so many ages either ignorant of the 
merits of cheese, or else have totally disregarded it ; and yet 
they understand how to thicken milk and form therefrom an 
acrid kind of liquid with a pleasant flavour, as well as a rich 
butter : this last is the foam 24 of milk, and is of a thicker con- 
sistency than the part which is known as the " serum." 25 Aft e 
ought not to omit that butter has certain of the properties of 
oil, and that it is used for an ointment among all barbarous 
nations, and among ourselves as well, for infants. 

23 See B. xxviii. c. 12. Poppeea Sabina, first the mistress, then the wife, 
of the Emperor Nero. . 

24 " Spuma." He calls it so, because it floats on the sunace. bee B. 
xxviii. c. 35. The " acor," or acrid liquid, which he speaks of, is, no 
doubt, butter-milk, M Or whey. 



The kinds of cheese that are most esteemed at Eome, where 
the various good things of all nations are to be judged of by 
comparison, are those which come from the provinces of Ne- 
mausus, 26 and more especially the villages there of Lesura 
and Gabalis; 27 but its excellence is only very short-lived, and 
it must be eaten while it is fresh. The pastures of the Alps 
recommend themselves by two sorts of cheese ; the Dalmatic 
Alps send us the Docleatian 28 cheese, and the Centronian 29 
Alps the Vatusican. The kinds produced in the Apennines are 
more numerous; from Liguria we have the cheese of Ceba, 
which is mostly made from the milk of sheep ; from TJmbria 
we have that of iEsina, and from the frontiers of Etruna and 
Liguria those of Luna, remarkable for their vast size, d single 
cheese weighing as much as a thousand pounds. Nearer the 
City, again, we have the cheese of Yestinum, the best of this 
kind being that which comes from the territory of Cedi- 
tium. 31 Goats also produce a cheese which has been of late 
held in the highest esteem, its flavour being heightened by 
smoking it. The cheese of this kind which is made at Rome 
is considered preferable to any other ; for that which is made 
in Gaul has a strong taste, like that of medicine. -Of. the 
cheeses that are made beyond sea, that of Bithyma 32 is usually 
considered the first in quality. That salt exists m pasture- 
lands is pretty evident, from the fact that all cheese as it 
grows old contracts a saltish flavour, even where it does not 
appear to any great extent; 33 while at the same time it is 
equally well known that cheese soaked in a mixture of thyme 
and vinegar will regain its original fresh flavour. It is said 
that Zoroaster lived thirty years in the wilderness upon cheese, 
prepared in such a peculiar manner, that he was insensible to 
the advances of old age. 

26 Nismes, in France. Hardouin speaks of goats'-milk cheeses made in 
its neighbourhood, and known as frontages de Bam. 

27 Probably the modern Losere and Gevaudan. See B. iv. c. IJ. 

28 For the Docleatse, see B. hi. c. 26. 

™ For the Centrones, see B. hi. c. 24. He perhaps refers to the modem 
frontage de Passi. „ , . 

so The modern Marquisat de Cive, which still produces excellent cneese. 

si See B. xiv. c. 8. 

32 And more especially at Salona in Bithynia. 

33 « Etiam ubi non videtur major." This is probably corrupt. 

8$ plint's natueal histoey. [Book XI. 



Of all the terrestrial animals, man is the only biped : he is 
also the only one that has a throat, and shoulders, or " hu- 
meri," parts in other animals known by the name of " armi." 
Man, too, is the only animal that has the " ulna," or elbow. 
Those animals which are provided with hands, have flesh 
only on the interior of them, the outer part consisting of sinews 
and skin. 


Some persons have six fingers on the hands, "We read that 
C. Horatius, a man of patrician rank, had two daughters, who 
for this reason had the name of " Sedigitae ;" and we find 
mention made of Volcatius Sedigitus, 34 as a famous poet. 
The fingers of man have three joints, the thumb only two, 
it bending in an opposite direction to all the other fingers. 
Viewed by itself, the movement of the thumb has a sidelong 
direction, and it is much thicker than the rest of the fingers. 
The little finger is equal in length to the thumb, and two others 
are also equal in length, the middle finger being the longest 
of all. Those quadrupeds which live by rapine have five toes 
on the fore feet, and four on the hinder ones. The lion, the 
wolf, and the dog, with some few others, have five claws 
on the hind feet, one of which hangs down near the joint of the 
leg. The other animals, also, which are of smaller size, have 
five toes. The two arms are not always equal in length : it 
is a well-known fact, that, in the school of gladiators belong- 
ing to Caius Caesar, 35 the Thracian Studiosus had the right 
arm longer than the left. Some animals also use their fore- 
paws to perform the duties of hands, and employ them in 
conveying food to the mouth as they sit, the squirrel, for in- 


As to the various kinds of apes, they offer a perfect resem- 

54 He wrote a poem, in which, the principal Latin dramatists are enume- 
rated, in the order of merit. A. Gellius, B. xv. c. 24, has preserved a por- 
tion of it. 

35 Germanicus. 

Chap. 102.] THE KNEES AND THE HAMS. 87 

blance to man in the face, the nostrils, the ears, and the eye- 
lids ; being the only quadrupeds, in fact, that have eyelashes on 
the lower eyelid. They have mammas also on the breast, arms 
and legs, which bend in opposite directions, and nails upon 
the hands and fingers, the middle finger being the longest. 
They differ somewhat from man in the feet ; which, like the 
hands, are of remarkable length, and have a print similar to 
that of the palm of our hand. They have a thumb also, and 
articulations similar to those in man. The males differ from 
man in the sexual parts only, while all the internal viscera 
exactly resemble those of man. 

CHAP. 101. (45.) THE NAILS. 

It is generally supposed that the nails are the terminations 
of the sinews. All animals which have fingers have nails as 
well. In the ape they are long and overlapping, 36 like a tile, 
while in man they are broad : they will grow even after death. 
In the beasts of prey they are hooked, while in others, such 
as the dog, for instance, they are straight, with the exception, 
indeed, of the one which is attached to the leg in most of 
them. All the animals which have feet [and not hoofs], have 
toes as well, except the elephant ; he, also, would appear to 
have toes, five in number, but rudely developed, undivided, 
and hardly distinct from one another, bearing a nearer resem- 
blance, in fact, to hoofs than to claws. In the elephant the 
fore-feet are the largest, and in the hind-feet there are short 
joints. This animal is able, also, to bend the hams inward 
like a man, while in all the others the joints of the hinder 
legs bend in a contrary direction to those of the fore ones. 
Those animals which are viviparous bend the fore-leg forward, 
while the joint of the hind-leg is directed backward. 


In man the knee and the elbow bend contrary ways ; the 
same is the case, too, with the bear and the ape, and it is for 
this reason that they are not so swift of foot as other ani- 
mals. Those quadrupeds which are oviparous, such as the 
crocodile and the lizard, bend the knee of the fore -leg back- 

36 This seems to be the meaning of " imbricatus." 


wards, and that of the hind-log forwards ; their thighs are 
placed on them obliquely, in a similar manner to a man's 
thumb ; which is the case also with the multipede insects, the 
hind-legs only excepted of such as leap. Birds, like quadru- 
peds, have the joints of the wings bending forwards, but those 
of the legs backwards. 



In accordance with the usages of various nations, certain 
religious ideas have been attached to the knees. It is the 
knees that suppliants clasp, and it is to these that they extend 
their hands ; it is the knees that they worship like so many 
altars, as it were ; perhaps, because in them is centred ^ the 
vital strength. For in the joint of either knee, the right 
as well as the left, there is on the fore- side of each a certain 
empty space, which bears a strong resemblance to a mouth, and 
through which, like the throat, if it is once pierced, the vital 
powers escape. 37 There are also certain religious ideas at- 
tached to other parts of che body, as is testified in raising the 
back of the right hand to the lips, and extending it as a token 
of good faith. It was the custom of the ancient Greeks, when 
in the act of supplication, to touch the chin. The seat of the 
memory lies in the lower part of the ear, which we touch 
when we summon a witness to depose upon memory to an 
arrest. 38 The seat, too, of Nemesis 39 lies behind the right ear, a 
goddess which has never yet found a Latin name, no, not in the 
Capitol even. It is to this part that we apply the finger next 
the little finger, after touching the mouth with it, when we 
silently ask pardon of the gods for having let slip an indiscreet 


^len only, in general, have varicose veins in the legs, wo- 
men but very rarely. We are informed by Oppius, that 

37 Though wounds in the knee are highly dangerous, death does not ne- 
cessarily ensue. 

38 Of another person, who had thus forfeited his bail. It was the cus- 
tom to touch the ear of the attesting witness. 

39 The goddess of retribution. See R. xxviii. c. 5, where he makes fur- 
ther mention of her statue in the Capitol. 

Chap. 106.]. hoofs. 89 

C. Marius, who was seven times consul, was the only man ever 
known to be able to have them extracted in a standing po- 


All animals take a right-hand direction when they first 
begin to walk, and lie down on the left side. "While the other 
animals walk just as it may happen, the lion only and the 
camel walk foot by foot, or in such a way that the left foot 
never passes the right, but always comes behind it. Men have 
the largest feet ; in every kind of animal the female has the 
smallest. Man only 40 has calves, and flesh upon the legs : we 
find it stated by authors, however, that there was once an 
Egyptian who had no calves on his legs. All men, too, with 
some few ey jeptions, have a sole to the foot. It is from these 
exceptional cases that persons have obtained the names of 
Plancus, 41 Plautus, Pansa, and Scaurus ; just as, from the mal- 
formation of the legs, we find persons called Varus, 42 Yacia, and 
Vatiniv.s, all which blemishes are to be seen in quadrupeds 
also. , Animals which have no horns have a solid hoof, from 
whi',h circumstance it is used by them as a weapon of offence, 
in place of horns ; such animals as these are also des- 
tfcute of pastern bones, but those which have cloven hoofs 
nave them ; while those, again, which have toes have none, 
nor are they ever found in the fore-feet of animals. The 
camel has pastern bones like those of the ox, but somewhat 
smaller, the feet being cloven, with a slight line of division, 
and having a fleshy sole, like that of the bear : hence it is, 
that in a long journey, the animal becomes fatigued, and the 
foot cracks, if it is not shod. 

chap. 106. (46.) — HOOFS.- 

The horn of the hoof grows again in no animals except 
beasts of burden. The swine in some places in Illyricum 
have solid hoofs. Nearly all the horned animals are cloven- 
footed, no animal having solid hoofs and two horns. The 
Indian ass is only a one-homed animal, and the oryx is both 

40 The frog is, in some measure, an exception. 

41 Or "flat-foot," "splay-foot," "large-foot," and "club-footed." 

42 Words meaning " knock-kneed," " bow-legged," and " wry-legged." 

90 flint's natural history. [Book XI. 

one-horned and cloven-footed. The Indian ass 43 is the 
only solid-hoofed animal that has pastern-bones. As to 
swine, they are looked upon as a sort of mongrel race, with a 
mixture of both kinds, and hence it is that their ankle-bones 
are so misshapen. Those authors who have imagined that 
man has similar pastern-bones, are easily to be confuted. The 
lynx is the only one among the animals that have the feet 
divided into toes, that has anything bearing a resemblance 
to a pastern-bone ; while with the lion it is more crooked 
still. The great pastern-bone is straight, and situate in the 
joints of the foot ; it projects outwards in a convex protube- 
rance, and is held fast in its vertebration by certain liga- 

CHAP. 107. (47.) THE FEET OF BIRDS. 

Among birds, some have the feet divided into toes, while 
others, again, are broad and flatfooted — in others, which par- 
take of the intermediate nature of both, the toes are divided, 
with a wide space between them. All birds, however, have 
four toes — three in front, and one on the heel ; this last, how- 
ever, is wanting in some that have long legs. The iynx 44 is 
the only bird that has two toes on each side of the leg. This 
bird also protrudes a long tongue similar to that of the serpent, 
and it can turn the neck quite round and look backwards ; it 
has great talons, too, like those of the jackdaw. Some of the 
heavier birds have spurs also upon the legs; but none of 
those have them which have crooked talons as well. The 
long-footed birds, as they fly, extend the legs towards the tail, 
while those that have short legs hold them contracted close to 
the middle of the body. Those authors who deny that there 
is any bird without feet, assert that those even which are 
called apodes, 45 are not without them, as also the oce, and the 
drepanis, 46 which last is a bird but very rarely seen. Ser- 
pents, too, have been seen with feet like those of the goose. 

43 The rhinoceros. 

44 Or wryneck. « See B. x. c. 5. 

46 Supposed to be the Hirundo apus of Linnaeus. Of the "oce" nothing 
is known ; indeed, the reading is very doubtful. 

Chap. 109.] THE SEXUAL PARTS. 91 



Among insects, those which have hard eyes have the fore- 
feet long, in order that from time to time they may rub the 
eyes with their feet, as we frequently see done by flies. The 
insects which have long hind-feet are able to leap, the locust, 
for instance. All these insects have six feet : and some of the 
spiders have two very long feet in addition. They have, all 
of them, three joints. We have already 47 stated that marine 
insects have eight feet, such as the polypus, the saepia, the 
cuttle-fish, and the crab, animals which move their arms in a 
contrary direction to their feet, which last they move around 
as well as obliquely : they are the only animals the feet of 
which have a rounded form. Other insects have two feet to 
regulate their movements ; in the crab, and in that only, these 
duties are performed by four. The land animals which exceed 
this number of feet, as most of the worms, 48 never have fewer 
than twelve feet, and some, indeed, as many as a hundred. 
The number of feet is never uneven in any animal. Among 
the solid-hoofed animals, the legs are of their proper length 
from the moment of their birth, after which they may with 
more propriety be said to extend themselves than to increase 
in growth : hence it is, that in infancy they are able to scratch 
their ears with the hind feet, a thing which, when they grow 
older, they are not able to do, because their increase of growth 
affects only the superficies of the body. It is for the same 
reason also, that they are only able to graze at first by bending 
the knees, until such time as the neck has attained its proper 

(49.) There are dwarfs to be found among all animals, and 
among birds even. 


"We have already spoken sufficiently 49 at length of those ani- 
mals, the males of which have the sexual parts behind. In 
the wolf, the fox, the weasel, and the ferret, these parts are 
bony ; and it is the genitals of the last-mentioned animal 

47 B. ix. c. 44. 

48 He evidently means insects of the centipede class. See B. xxix. c. 39. 

49 B. x. c. 83. 

92 pliny's natural histoey. [Book XI. 

that supply the principal remedies for calculus in the human 
bladder. It is said also that the genitals of the bear are 
turned into a horny substance the moment it dies. Among 
the peoples of the East the very best bow-strings are those 
which are made of the member of the camel. These parts also, 
among different nations, are made the object of certain usages 50 
and religious observances ; and the Galli, 51 the priests of the 
Mother of the gods, are in the habit of castrating themselves, 
without any dangerous results. On the other hand, there is 
in some few women a monstrous resemblance to the male con- 
formation, while hermaphrodites appear to partake of the 
nature of both. Instances of this last conformation^ were 
seen in quadrupeds in Nero's reign, and for the first time, I 
imagine ; for he ostentatiously paraded hermaphrodite horses 
yoked to his car, which had been found in the territory of 
the Treviri, in Gaul ; as if, indeed, it was so remarkably fine a 
sight to behold the ruler of the earth seated in a chariot drawn 
by monstrosities ! 


In sheep and cattle the testes hang down to the legs, while 
in the boar they are knit up close to the body. In the dolphin 
they are very long, and are concealed in the lower part of the 
belly. In the elephant, also, they are quite concealed. In 
oviparous animals they adhere to the interior of the loins : 
these animals are the most speedy in the venereal congress. 
Pishes and serpents have no testes, but in place of them they 
have two veins, which run from the renal region to the genitals. 
The bird known as the " buteo," 51 has three testes. Man is 
the only creature in which the testes are ever broken, either 
accidentally or by some natural malady ; those who are thus 
afflicted form a third class of half men, in addition to her- 
maphrodites and eunuchs. In all species of animals the male 
is more courageous than the female, with the exception of the 
panther and the bear. 


Nearly all the animals, both viviparous as well as oviparous, 

50 Such as circumcision among the Jews. 

51 See B. xxxv. c. 46. 

51 Probably the buzzard ; from this story also called the " triorchis." 


with the exception of man and the ape, have tails in propor- 
tion to the necessities of the body. In animals with bristles 
the tail is bare, as in the boar, for instance. In those that are 
shaggy, it is small, such as the bear ; while in those animals 
that have long hair, the tail is long also, the horse, for in- 
stance. The tail of a lizard or serpent, if cut off, will grow 
again. The tail governs the movements of the fish like a 
rudder, and turning from side to side, to the right or to the 
left, impels it onwards, acting in some degree like an oar. 
A double tail is sometimes found in lizards. In oxen, the 
stalk of the tail is of remarkable length, and is covered with 
rough hair at the extremity. In the ass, too, it is longer than 
in the horse, but in beasts of burden it is covered with bristly 
hairs. The tail of the lion, at the extremity, is like that of 
the ox and the field-mouse ; but this is not the case with the 
panther. In the fox and the wolf it is covered with long 
hair, as in sheep, in which it is longer also. In swine, the 
tail is curled ; among dogs, those that are mongrels carry it 
close beneath the belly. 


Aristotle 52 is of opinion that no animal has a voice which 
does not respire, and that hence it is that there is no voice in 
insects, but only a noise, through the circulation of the air in 
the interior, and its resounding, by reason of its compression. 
Some insects, again, he says, emit a sort of humming noise, 
such as the bee, for instance ; others a shrill, long-drawn note, 
like the grasshopper, the two cavities beneath the thorax re- 
ceiving the air, which, meeting a moveable membrane within, 
emits a sound by the attrition. — Also that flies, bees, and 
other insects of that nature, are only heard while they are 
flying, and cease to be heard the moment they settle, and that 
the sound which they emit proceeds from the friction and the 
air within them, and not from any act of respiration. At all 
events, it is generally believed that the locust emits a sound 
by rubbing together the wings and thighs, and that among 
the aquatic animals the scallop makes a certain noise as it 
flies. 53 Mollusks, however, and the testaceous animals have no 
voice and emit no sounds. As for the other fishes, although 

52 Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 9. 53 See B. ix. c. 52. 

94 plint's natural history. Book XI. 

they are destitute of lungs and the tracheal artery, they are 
not entirely without the power of emitting certain sounds : it 
is only a mere joke to sa)^ that the noise which they make is 
produced by grating their teeth together. The fish, too, that 
is found in the river Acheloiis, and is known as the boar-fish, 64 
makes a grunting noise, as do some others which we have pre- 
viously 55 mentioned. The oviparous animals hiss: in the 
serpent this hissing is prolonged, in the tortoise it is short and 
abrupt. Frogs make a peculiar noise of their own, as already 
stated; 56 unless, indeed, this, too, is to be looked upon as a 
matter of doubt ; but their noise originates in the mouth, and 
not in the thorax. Still, however, in reference to this subject, 
the nature of the various localities exercises a very considerable 
influence, for in Macedonia, it is said, the frogs are dumb, and 
the same in reference to the wild boars there. Among birds, 
the smaller ones chirp and twitter the most, and more espe- 
cially about the time of pairing. Others, again, exercise their 
voice while fighting, the quail, for instance ; others before 
they begin to fight, such as the partridge ; and others when, 
they have gained the victory, the dunghill cock, for instance. 
The males in these species have a peculiar note of their own, 
while in others, the nightingale for example, the male has 
the same note as the female. 

Some birds sing all the year round, others only at certain 
times of the year, as we have already mentioned when speak- 
ing of them individually. The elephant produces a noise 
similar to that of sneezing, by the aid of the mouth, and in- 
dependently of the nostrils ; but by means of the nostrils it 
emits a sound similar to the hoarse braying of a trumpet. 
It is only in the bovine race that the voice of the female is the 
deepest, it being in all other kinds of animals more shrill than 
that of the male ; it is the same also with the male of the 
human race when castrated. The infant at its birth is never 
heard to utter a cry before it has entirely left the uterus : 
it begins to speak at the end of the first year. A son of 
Croesus, 57 however, spoke when only six months old, and, while 
yet wielding the child's rattle, afforded portentous omens, for 

54 "Aper." 55 B. ix. c. 7. 

56 See c. 65 of the present Book. 

51 Not the dumb son mentioned by Herodotus, who saved his father's 
life at the taking of Surdes. 

Chap. 113.] SUPERFLUOUS LIMBS. 95 

it was at the same period that his father's empire fell. Those 
children which begin to speak the soonest, begin to walk the 
latest. The human voice acquires additional strength at the 
fourteenth year ; but in old age it becomes more shrill again, 
and there is no living creature in which it is subject to more 
frequent changes. 
_ In addition to the preceding, there are still some singular 
circumstances that deserve to be mentioned with reference to 
the voice. If saw-dust or sand is thrown down in the orches- 
tra of a theatre, or if the walls around are left in a rough 
state, or empty casks are placed there, the voice is absorbed ; 
while, on the other hand, if the wall is quite straight, or if 
built in a concave form, the voice will move along it, and will 
convey words spoken in the slightest whisper from one 
end 58 to the other, if there is no inequality in the surface to 
impede its progress. The voice, in man, contributes in a great 
degree to form his physiognomy, for we form a knowledge of 
a man before we see him by hearing his voice, just as well 59 
as if we had seen him with our eyes. There are as many 
kinds of voices, too, as there are individuals in existence, and 
each man has his own peculiar voice, just as much as his own 
peculiar physiognomy. Hence it is, that arises that vast di- 
versity of nations and languages throughout the whole earth : 
in this, too, originate the many tunes, measures, and inflexions 
that exist. But, before all other things, it is the voice that 
serves to express our sentiments, 60 a power that distinguishes 
us from the beasts ; just as, in the same way, the various shades 
and differences in language that exist among men have created 
an equally marked difference between us and the brutes. 


Supernumerary limbs, when they grow on animals, are of 
no use, which is the case also with the sixth finger, when it 
grows on man. It was thought proper in Egypt to rear a 
human monster, that had two additional eyes in the back part 
of the head ; it could not see with them, however. 

58 Like the whispering gallery of St. Paul's Cathedral. 

59 " Non aliter quam oculis." On this, few will be found to asn-ee with 
Pliny. & 

6u And not to " conceal " them, according to the opinion of some modern 



I am greatly surprised that Aristotle has not only believed, 
but has even committed it to writing, that there are in the 
human body certain prognostics of the duration of life. Al- 
though I am quite convinced of the utter futility of these re- 
marks, and am of opinion that they ought not to be published 
without hesitation, for fear lest each person might be anxiously 
looking out for these prognostics in his own person, I shall still 
make some slight mention of the subject, seeing that so learned 
a man as Aristotle did not treat it with contempt. He has set 
down the following as indications of a short life — few teeth, 
very long fingers, a leaden colour, and numerous broken lines 
in the palm of the hand. On the other hand, he looks upon the 
following as prognostics of a long life — stooping in the shoul- 
ders, one or two long unbroken lines in the hand, a greater num- 
ber than two-and-thirty teeth, and large ears . He does not, I 
imagine, require that all these symptoms should unite in one 
person, but looks upon them as individually significant : in my 
opinion, however, they are utterly frivolous, all of them, al- 
though they obtain currency among the vulgar. Our own writer, 
Trogus, has in a similar manner set down the physiognomy as 
indicative of the moral disposition ; one of the very gravest of 
the Eoman authors, whose own 61 words I will here subjoin : — 

" Where the forehead is broad, it is significant of a dull and 
sluggish understanding beneath ; and where it is small, it in- 
dicates an unsteady disposition. A rounded forehead denotes 
an irascible temper, it seeming as though the swelling anger 
had left its traces there. Where the eye-brows are extended 
in one straight line, they denote effeminacy in the owner, and 
when they are bent downwards towards the nose, an austere 
disposition. On the other hand, when the eye-brows are bent 
towards the temples, they are indicative of a sarcastic dispo- 
sition ; but when they lie very low, they denote malice and 
envy. Long eyes are significant of a spiteful, malicious nature ; 
and where the corners of the eyes next the nose are fleshy, it 
is a sign also of a wicked disposition. If the white of the eye 
is large, it bears tokens of impudence, while those who are 
incessantly closing the eyelids are inconstant. Largeness of 

61 But thev are borrowed from Aristotle, Hist. Anira. B. i. c. 9. 


the ears is a sign of loquacity and foolishness." Thus much 
of what Trogus says. 


The breath of the lion is fetid, and that of the bear quite 
pestilential ; indeed, no beast will touch anything with which 
its breath has come in contact, and substances which it has 
breathed upon will become putrid sooner than others. It is 
in man only that Nature has willed that the breath should 
become tainted in several ways, either through faultiness in 
the victuals or the teeth, or else, as is more generally the case, 
through extreme old age. Our breath in itself was insensible 
to all pain, utterly devoid as it was of all powers of touch and 
feeling, without which there can be no sensation ; ever re- 
newed, it was always forthcoming, destined to be the last ad- 
junct that shall leave the body, and the only one to remain 
when all is gone beside ; it drew, in fine, its origin from 
heaven. In spite of all this, however, certain penalties were 
discovered to be inflicted upon it, so that the very substance 
by the aid of which we live might become a torment to us in 
life. This inconvenience is more particularly experienced 
among the Parthians, from their youth upwards, on account 
of the indiscriminate use of food among them ; and, indeed, 
their very excess in wine causes their breath to be fetid. The 
grandees, however, of that nation have a remedy for bad breath 
in the pips of the Assyrian citron, 62 which they mix with their 
food, and the aroma of which is particularly agreeable. The 
breath of the elephant will attract serpents from their holes, 
while that of the stag scorches them. "We have already made 
mention 63 of certain races of men who could by suction extract 
from the body the venom of serpents ; and swine will even eat 
serpents, 64 which to other animals are poisonous. All those 
creatures which we have spoken of as insects, can be killed by 
merely sprinkling them with oil. 65 Vultures, which are put 
to flight by unguents, are attracted by other odours : the beetle, 
too, is attracted by the rose. The scorpion puts to death certain 
serpents. The Scythians dip their arrows in the poison of 

62 See B. xii. c. 7. 63 B. vii. c. 2 

64 See B. xxix. c. 23. 

65 See c. 21 of the present Book. 



serpents and human blood : against this frightful composition 
there is no remedy, for with the slightest touch it is productive 
of instant death. 



The animals which feed upon poison have been already 61 ' 
mentioned. Some of them, which are harmless of themselves, 
become noxious if fed upon venomous substances. The wild 
boar of Pamphylia and the mountainous parts of Cilicia, after 
having devoured a salamander, will become poisonous to those 
who eat its flesh ; and yet the danger is quite imperceptible 
by reason of any peculiarity in the smell and taste. The sala- 
mander, too, will poison either water or wine, in which it 
happens to be drowned ; and what is more, if it has only drunk 
thereof, the liquid becomes poisonous. The same is the case, 
too, with the frog known to us as the bramble-frog. So nu- 
merous are the snares that are laid in w T ait for life ! Wasp3 
greedily devour the flesh of the serpent, a nutriment which 
renders their stings fatal ; so vast is the difference to be found 
between one kind of food and another. In the country, too, 
of the Ichthyophagi, 67 as we learn from Theophrastus, the oxen 
are fed upon fish, but only when alive. 



The most wholesome nutriment for man is plain food. An 
accumulation of flavours is injurious, and still more so, if 
heightened by sauces. All acrid elements are difficult of di- 
gestion, and the same is the case if food is devoured greedily, 
or in too large quantities. Food is also less easily digested in 
summer than in winter, and in old age than in youth. The 
vomits which man has invented, by way of remedy for this 
evil, render the body more cold, and are more particularly inju- 
rious to the eyes and teeth. 



Digestion during sleep is more productive of corpulence than 
strength. Hence it is, that it is preferable for athletes to 
es B. ix. c. 33. 67 Or Fish-eaters. 

Chap. 119.] SUMMARY. 99 

quicken digestion by walking. Watching, at night more es- 
pecially, promotes digestion of the food. 

(54.) The size of the body is increased by eating sweet and 
fatty substances, as well as by drinking, while, on the other 
hand, it is diminished by eating dry, acrid, or cold substances, 
and by abstaining from drink. Some animals of Africa, as 
well as sheep, drink but once every four days. Abstinence 
from food for seven days, even, is not of necessity fatal to man ; 
and it is a well-known fact, that many persons have not died till 
after an abstinence of eleven days. Man is the only animal 
that is ever attacked with an insatiate 68 craving for food. 



On the other hand, there are some substances which, tasted 
in small quantities only, appease hunger and thirst, and keep 
up the strength, such as butter, for instance, cheese made of 
mares' milk, and liquorice. But the most pernicious thing of 
all, and in every station of life, is excess, and" more especiallv 
excess in food ; in fact, it is the most prudent plan to re- 
trench everything that may be possibly productive of injury. 
Let us, however, now pass on to the other branches of Nature. 

Summary. — Eemarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 
two thousand, two hundred, and seventy. 

Roman authors quoted. — M. Varro, 69 Hyginus, 70 Scrofa, 71 
Saserna, 72 Celsus Cornelius, 73 iEmilius Macer, 7i Virgil, 75 Colu- 
mella, 76 Julius Aquila 77 who wrote on the Tuscan art of Divi- 
nation, Tarquitius 78 who wrote on the same subject, Umbricius 
Melior 79 who wrote on the same subject, Cato the Censor, 80 
Doniitius Calvinus, 81 Trogus, 82 Melissus, 83 Fabianus, 84 Muci- 
anus, 85 ]N T igidius, 86 Manilius, 87 Oppius. 88 

68 Or bulimia. 

69 See end of B. ii. "° See end of B. iii. 

71 C. Tremellius Scrofa, a Mend of M. Varro, and one of the early writers 
on agriculture. "2 See end of B. x. 

73 See end of B. vii. 74 See end of B. ix. 

75 See end of B. vii. ™ See end of B. viii. 

77 See end of B. ii. w See end of B. ii. 

79 See end of B. x. so gee end of B. iii. 

81 Nothing seems to be ltnown of this writer. 

82 See end of B. vii. «» See end of B. vii. 
84 See end of B. ii. ^ See end of B. ii. 
86 See end of B. vi. * 7 See end of B. x. 

88 C. Oppius, one of the most intimate friends of Julius Caesar, for whom, 

100 plint's natural history. [Book XI. 

Foreign authors quoted.— Aristotle, 89 Democritus, 90 Neop- 
tolemus 91 who wrote the Meliturgica, Aristomachus 92 who 
wrote on the same subject, Philistus 93 who wrote on the same 
subiect, Meander, 91 Menecrates, 95 Dionysius 96 who translated 
Mago, Empedocles, 97 Callimaehus, 98 King Attains, 99 Apollo- - 
dorns 1 who wrote on venomous animals, Hippocrates, 2 Hero- 
philus, 3 Erasistratus, 4 Asclepiades, 5 Themison, 6 Posidomus 7 the 
Stoic Menander 8 of Priene and Menander 9 of Heraclea, Eu- 
phronius 10 of Athens, Theophrastus, 11 Hesiod, 12 King Philo- 
metor. 13 

with Balbus, he acted in Spain. Of his numerous biographical and his- 
torical works, none have survived to our time. 

99 See end of B. ii. 90 See end of B n. . 

9 1 Probably Neoptolemus of Paros, who wrote a book ot Epigrams, a 
treatise on Languages, and other works. 

92 Of Soli, an observer of the habits of bees. His portrait is said still 
to exist, on a cornelian, attentively observing a swarm of bees. He wrote 
upon bees, honey, and the art of mixing wines. 

93 Probably a different writer from the one mentioned at the end ot 
B viii • nothing seems to be known of him. 91 See end of B. vm. 

95 See end of B. viii. 96 See end of B. x. 

97 A philosopher of Agrigentum, and disciple of Pythagoras. He is 
said to have perished in the crater of Mount Etna. He wrote numerous 
works, of which only some fragments exist. 

98 See end of B. iv. Q 

99 Apparently the same as the King Philometor, mentioned below.- bee 

end of B. viii. 

1 Of this writer nothing seems to be known. 

2 See end of B. vii. . 

3 Of Chalcedon, one of the most famous physicians ot antiquity. Jle 
was physician to Phalaris, the tyrant of Sicily, and is said to have dis- 
sected criminals alive. He was the first that paid particular attention to 
the nervous system. . 

4 A native of Iulis, in Cos, or else Ceos, grandson of Aristotle, ana 
disciple of Theophrastus. He acquired great reputation as a physician, at 
the court of Seleucus Nicator, king of Syria, where be discovered the sup- 
posed disease of Prince Antiochus, who had fallen in love with his step- 
mother, Stratonice. Of his numerous medical works, only the titles and 
a few fragments exist. 5 See end of B. vn. 

« A physician of Laodicsea, founder of the school of the Methodici. He 
was a pupil of Asclepiades, and died about b.c. 43. Of his medical works 
only a few fragments survive. 7 See end of B. u. 

* See end of B. viii. 9 See end of B. ym. 

jo See end of B. viii. " See end of B. m. 

12 See end of B. vii. 13 See King Attains, above. 





Such, then, is the history, according to their various species 
and their peculiar conformations, of all the animals within the 
compass of our knowledge. It now remains for us to speak of 
the vegetable productions of the earth, which are equally far 
from being destitute of a vital spirit, 1 (for, indeed, nothing can 
live without it), that we may then proceed to describe the mine- 
rals extracted from it, and so none of the works of Nature may 
be passed by in silence. Long, indeed, were these last boun- 
ties of hers concealed beneath the ground, the trees and forests 
being regarded as the most valuable benefits conferred by Na- 
ture upon mankind. It was from the forest that man drew 
his first aliment, by the leaves of the trees was his cave ren- 
dered more habitable, and by their bark was his clothing sup- 
plied ; even at this very day, 2 there are nations that live 
under similar circumstances to these. Still more and more, 
then, must we be struck with wonder and admiration, that 
from a primaeval state such as this, we should now be cleaving 
the mountains for their marbles, visiting the Seres 3 to obtain 
our clothing, seeking the pearl in the depths of the Eed Sea, 
and the emerald in the very bowels of the earth. For our 
adornment with these precious stones it is that we have devised 
those wounds which we make in our ears; because, forsooth, 
it was deemed not enough to carry them on our hands, our 
necks, and our hair, if we did not insert them in our very flesh 
as well. It will be only proper, then, to follow the order of 
human inventions, and to speak of the trees before treating of 

1 " Anima." The notion that plants are possessed of a soul or spirit, is 
derived from the Greek philosophers, who attributed to them intellect also, 
and sense. 

2 Vitruvius mentions the people of Gaul, Hispania, Lusitania, and 
Aquitania, as living in his day in dwellings covered with oak shingles, or 
with straw. 

3 See B. vi. c. 20, and B. xi. c. 26. 

}Q2 plint's natural history. [Book XII. 

other subjects ; thus may we trace up to their very origin the 
manners and usages of the present day. 


The trees formed the first temples of the gods, and even at 
the present day, the country people, preserving in all their 
simplicity their ancient rites, consecrate the finest among their 
trees to some divinity ; 4 indeed, we feel ourselves inspired to 
adoration, not less by the sacred groves and their very stillness, 
than by the statues of the gods, resplendent as they are with 
gold and ivory. Each kind of tree remains immutably conse- 
crated to its own peculiar divinity, the beech 5 to Jupiter, 6 the 
laurel to Apollo, the olive to Minerva, the myrtle to Yenus, 
and the poplar to Hercules : besides which, it is our belief 
that the Sylvans, the Fauns, and various kinds of goddess 
Nymphs, have the tutelage of the woods, and we look upon 
those deities as especially appointed to preside over them by 
the will of heaven. In more recent times, it was the trees 
that by their juices, more soothing even than corn, first molli- 
fied the natural asperity of man ; and it is from these that we 
now derive the oil of the olive that renders the limbs so supple, 
the draught of wine that so efficiently recruits the strength, 
and the numerous delicacies which spring up spontaneously at 
the various seasons of the year, and load our tables with their 
viands — tables to replenish which, we engage in combat with 
wild beasts, and seek for the fishes which have fattened upon 
the dead corpse of the shipwrecked mariner — indeed, it is only 
at the second 7 course, after all, that the produce of the trees 

But, in addition to this, the trees have a thousand other 
uses, all of which are indispensable to the full enjoyment of 

4 Desfontaines remarks, that we may still trace vestiges of this custom 
in the fine trees that grow near church porches, and in church-yards. 
Of course, his remark will apply to France more particularly. 

5 It is doubtful "whether, the sesculus of the Romans was the same as the 
bay-oak, the holm-oak, or the beech. See B. xvi. c. 4. 

6 See further on this subject in Phsedrus's Fables, B. hi. f. 17. 

7 Reckoning the promulsis, antecaena, or gustatio, not as a course, but 
only a prelude, the bellaria, or dessert, at the Roman banquets, formed the 
second course, or mensa. It consisted of fruits uncooked, sweetmeats, and 

Chap. 3.] EXOTIC TEEES. ] 03 

life. It is by the aid of the tree that we plough the deep, and 
bring near to us far distant lands ; it is by the aid of the tree, 
too, that we construct our edifices. The statues, even, of the 
deities were formed of the wood of trees, in the days when no 
value had been set as yet on the dead carcase 8 of a wild beast, 
and when, luxury not yet deriving its sanction from the 
gods themselves, we had not to behold, resplendent with the 
same ivory, the heads of the divinities 9 and the feet of our 
tables. It is related that the Gauls, separated from us as they 
were by the Alps, which then formed an almost insurmountable 
bulwark, had, as their chief motive for invading Italy, its 
dried figs, its grapes, its oil, and its wine, samples 10 of which 
had been brought back to them by Helico, a citizen of the 
Helvetii, who had been staying at Eome, to practise there as 
an artizan. "We may offer some excuse, then, for them, when 
we know that they came in quest of these various productions, 
though at the price even of war. 



But who is there that will not, with good reason, be sur- 
prised to learn that a tree has been introduced among us from 
a foreign clime for nothing but its shade ? I mean the plane, 11 
which was first brought across the Ionian Sea to the Isle 12 of 
Diomedes, there to be planted at his tomb, and was afterwards 
imported thence into Sicily, being one of the very first exotic 
trees that were introduced into Italy. At the present day, 
however, it has penetrated as far as the country of the 
Morini, and occupies even a tributary 13 soil; in return for which 

8 He alludes to the pursuit of the elephant, for the purpose of obtaining 
ivory, which was extensively used in his day, in making the statues of the 

9 A sarcastic antithesis. And yet Dalechamps would read "hominum" 
instead of " numinum" ! 

10 Praemissa, The exact meaning of this word does not appear. Though 
all the MSS. agree in it, it is probably a corrupt reading. Plutarch, in 
his Life of Camillus, says that the wine of Italy was first introduced in 
Gaul by Aruns, the Etruscan. 

11 The Platanus orientalis of Linnoeus. It received its name from the 
Greek ttXcltoq, "breadth," by reason of its wide-spreading branches. 

12 For further mention of this island, now Tremiti, see B. iii. c. 30. 

13 He alludes, probably, to the "vectigal solarium," a sort of ground- 

104 pliny's NATUEAL HISTOET. [Book XII, 

those nations have to pay a tax for the enjoyment of its shade. 
Dionysius the Elder, one of the tyrants of Sicily, had plane- 
trees conveyed to the city of Rhegium, where they were looked 
upon as the great marvel of his palace, which was afterwards 
converted into a gymnasium. These trees did not, however, 
in that locality, attain any very great height. I find it also 
stated by some authors, that there were some other instances, 
in those days even, of plane-trees being found in Italy, and I 
find some mentioned by name as existing in Spain. 14 


This circumstance took place about the time of the capture 
of the City of Rome ; and to such high honour, in the course 
of time, did the plane-tree attain, that it was nurtured by 
pouring wine upon it, it being found that the roots were greatly 
strengthened by doing 15 so. Thus have we taught the very 
trees, even, to be wine-bibbers ! 


The first plane-trees that were spoken of in terms of high 
admiration were those which adorned the walks of the Aca- 
demy 16 at Athens — [in one of which], the roots extended a dis- 
tance of thirty- three cubits, and spread far beyond its branches. 
At the present day, there is a very famous plane in Lycia, 
situate in close proximity to a fountain of the most refresh- 
ing coolness ; standing near the road, with the cavity in its 

rent which the tributary nations paid to the Roman treasury. Virgil and 
Homer speak of the shade of the plane-tree, as a pleasant resort for festive 

14 It is not improbable that Pliny, in copying from Theophrastus, has 
here committed an error. That author, B. ix. c. 7, says : iv fikv yap t<£ 
'Adpia TrXdravov ov (paaiv eivai, ttXi^v irtpi to AiofiijSovg itpov inraviav 
Be ical iv 'IraXia 7rd<r?j. " They say that in Adria there are no plane- 
trees, except about the temple of Diomedes : and that they are extremely 
rare in Italy." Pliny, probably, when his secretary was reading to him, 
mistook the word mraviav, "rare," for 7 I(nraviq, "in Spain." 

15 It has been remarked that, in reality, this process would only tend 
to impede its growth. Macrobius tells us, that Hortensius was guilty of 
this singular folly. 

16 Situate near the sea-shore. It was here that Plato taught. See B. 
xxxi. c. 3. 

Chap, o.] 


interior, it forms a species of house eighty- one feet in width. 
Its summit, too, presents the foliage of a grove, while it shields 
itself with huge branches, each of which would equal an ordi- 
nary tree in size, as it throws its lengthened shade across the 
fields. In addition to this, that nothing may be wanting to 
its exact resemblance to a grotto, there is a circle of seats 
within, formed of stone, intermingled with pumice overgrown 
with moss. This tree was looked upon as so worthy of remark, 
that Licinius Mucianus, who was three times consul, and re- 
cently the legatus of that province, thought it a circumstance 
deserving of transmission even to posterity, that he, together 
with eighteen persons of his retinue, had sat down to a banquet 
in the interior of it. Its leaves afforded material for their 
couches in the greatest abundance, while he himself, sheltered 
from every gust of wind, and trying in vain to hear the pat- 
tering of the rain on the leaves, took his meal there, and en- 
joyed himself more than he would have done amid the resplen- 
dence of marble, a multiplicity of paintings, and beneath a 
cieling refulgent with gold. 

Another curious instance, again, was that afforded in the 
reign of the Emperor Caius. 17 That prince was so struck with 
admiration on seeing a plane in the territory of Yeliternum, 
which presented floor after floor, like those of the several stories 
of a house, by means of broad benches loosely laid from branch 
to branch, that he held a banquet in it — himself adding 18 very 
materially to the shade it threw — the triclinium being formed 
for the reception of fifteen guests and the necessary attendants : 
to this singular dining-room he gave the name of his "nest." 

At Gortyna, in the Isle of Crete, there is, in the vicinity of 
a fountain there, a single plane-tree, which has been long cele- 
brated in the records of both the Greek and the Latin language : 
it never loses 19 its leaves, and from an early period one of the 
fabulous legends of Greece has been attached to it, to the effect 
that it was beneath this tree that Jupiter lay with Europa ; 
just as if there had not been another tree of a similar nature 

17 Caligula. 

18 It is supposed that he here alludes sarcastically to the extreme cor- 
pulence of Caligula. 

19 M. Fee, the learned editor of the botanical books in Ajasson's trans- 
lation, remarks, that this cannot have been the Platanus of the botanists, 
and that there is no tree of Europe, which does not lose its leaves, that at 
all resembles it s 

106 pliny's natueal histoey. [Book XII. 

in the island of Cyprus. Slips of the tree at Gortyna— so 
fond is man by nature of novelty — were at an early period 
planted at different places in Crete, and reproduced the natural 
imperfections of the tree ; 20 though, indeed, there is no higher 
recommendation in the plane than the fact that in summer it 
protects us from the rays of the sun, while in winter it admits 
them.^ In later times, during the reign of the Emperor 
Claudius, a Thessalian eunuch, the freedman of Marcellus 
JEserninus, 21 who, however, from motives of ambition had en- 
rolled himself in the number of the freedmen of the emperor, 
and had acquired very considerable wealth, introduced this 
plane into Italy, in order to beautify his country-seat : so that 
he may not inappropriately be styled a second Dionysiusi 
These monstrosities of other lands are still to be seen in Italy, 
independently of those which that country has herself devised. 



For we find in Italy some plane-trees, which are known as 
chamseplatani, 22 in consequence of their stunted growth ; for 
we have discovered the art of causing abortion in trees even, 
and hence, even in the vegetable world we shall have occasion 
to make mention of dwarfs, an unprepossessing subject in every 
case. This result is obtained in trees, by a peculiar method 
adopted in planting and lopping them. C. Matins, 23 a member 
of the Equestrian order, and a friend of the late Emperor 
Augustus, invented the art of clipping arbours, within the last 
eighty years. 


^ The cherry and the peach, and all those trees which have 
either Greek or foreign names, are exotics : those, however, of 

20 The tendency, namely, to lose their leaves. 

21 Grandson of Asinius Pollio. Tacitus tells us, that he was one of 
those whom Piso requested to undertake his defence, when charged with 
having poisoned Germanicus ; but he declined the office. 

22 Or " ground plane-trees." It is by no means uncommon to see dwarf 
varieties of the larger trees, which are thus reduced to the dimensions of 
mere shrubs. 

23 C. Matius Calvena, the friend of Julius and Augustus Csesar, as also 
of Cicero. He is supposed to have translated the Iliad into Latin verse, 
and to have written a work on cookery. 

Chap. 8.] THE TEEES OF IKDIA. 107 

this number, which have begun to be naturalized among us, 
will be treated of when I come to speak of the fruit-trees in 
general. For the present, I shall only make mention of the 
really exotic trees, beginning with the one that is applied to 
the most salutary uses. The citron tree, called the Assyrian, 
and by some the Median apple, is an antidote against poisons. 24 
The leaf is similar to that of the arbute, except that it has 
small prickles 25 running across it. As to the fruit, it is never 
eaten, 26 but it is remarkable for its extremely powerful smell, 
which is the case, also, with the leaves ; indeed, the odour is 
so strong, that it will penetrate clothes, when they are once 
impregnated with it, and hence it is very useful in repelling 
the attacks of noxious insects. The tree bears fruit at all 
seasons of the year ; while some is falling off, other fruit is 
ripening, and other, again, just bursting into birth. Various 
nations have attempted to naturalize this tree among them, for 
the sake of its medical properties, by planting it in pots of 
clay, with holes drilled in them, for the purpose of introducing 
the air to the roots ; and I would here remark, once for all, 
that it is as well to remember that the best plan is to pack all 
slips of trees that have to be carried to any distance, as close 
together as they can possibly be placed. It has been found, 
however, that this tree will grow nowhere 27 except in 
Media or Persia. It is this fruit, the pips of which, as we 
have already mentioned, 28 the Parthian grandees employ in 
seasoning their ragouts, as being peculiarly conducive to the 
sweetening of the breath. We find no other tree very highly 
commended that is produced in Media. 


In describing the country of the Seres, we have already 

24 See B. xxiii. c. 55. Fee remarks, that the ancients confounded the 
citron with the orange-tree. 

25 Fee remarks, that this is not the case. The arbute is described 
in B. xv. c. 28. 

26 In the time of Plutarch, it had begun to be somewhat more used. It 
makes one of the very finest preserves. 

27 At the present day, it is cultivated all over India, in China, South 
America, and the southern parts of Europe. Fee says, that they grow 
even in the open air in the gardens of Malmaison. 

26 B. xi. c. 115. Virgil says the same, Georg. B. ii. 11. 134, 135. 
Theophrastus seems to say, that it was the outer rind that was so used. 

108 pliny's natural history. [Book XII. 

made mention 29 of the wool-bearing trees which it produces ; 
and we have, likewise, touched 30 upon the extraordinary 
magnitude of the trees of India. Yirgil 31 has spoken in 
glowing terms of the ebony-tree, one of those which are pecu- 
liar to India, and he further informs us, that it will grow in 
no other country. Herodotus, however, has preferred to 
ascribe 32 it to ^Ethiopia ; and states that the people of that 
country were in the habit of paying to the kings of Persia, 
every third year, by way of tribute, 32 * one hundred billets of 
ebony-wood, together with a certain quantity of gold and 
ivory. Nor ought we here to omit the fact, inasmuch as the 
same author has stated to that effect, that the .^Ethiopians 
were also in the habit of paying, by way of tribute, twenty 
large elephants' teeth. So high was the esteem in which 
ivory was held in the year from the building of our city, 
310: for it was at that period 33 that this author was com- 
piling his History at Thurii, in Italy ; which is all the more 
remarkable, from the implicit confidence we place in him, 
when he says 34 that up to that time, no native of Asia or 
Greece, to his knowledge at least, had ever beheld the river 
Padus. The plan of ^Ethiopia, which, as we have already 
mentioned, 35 was recently laid before the Emperor Nero, in- 
forms us, that this tree is very uncommon in the country that 
lies between Syene, the extreme boundary of the empire, and 
Meroe, a distance of eight hundred and ninety-six miles ; and 
that, in fact, the only kind of tree that is to be found there, is 
the palm. It was, probably, for this reason, that ebony held 
the third place in the tribute that was thus imposed. 

29 See B. vi. c. 20. 

30 See B. vii. c. 2. The tree to which he alludes is unknown. 

31 Georg. B. ii. 11. 116, 117. 

32 B. iii. c. 97. There is little doubt that, under the general name of 
" ebony," the wood of many kinds of trees was, and is still, imported into 
the western world, so that both Herodotus and Virgil may have been cor- 
rect in representing ebony as the product of both India and ^Ethiopia. 

- 32 * Herodotus says two hundred. 

33 In Italy, whither he had retired from the hostile attacks of his fellow- 
citizens. It is supposed by Le Vayer and others, that Pliny is wrong in 
his assertion, that Herodotus wrote to this effect while at Thurii ; though 
Dr. Schmitz is inclined to be of opinion that he is right in his statement. 

34 B. iii. c. 115. 

35 B. vi. c. 35. 

Chap. 11.] THE INDIAN TIG. 109 



Pompeius Magnus displayed ebony on the occasion of his 
triumph over Mithridates. Fabianus declares, that this wood 
will give out no flame ; it burns, however, with a very agree- 
able smell. There are two kinds 36 of ebony ; the rarest kind 
is the best, and is produced from a tree that is singularly free 
from knots. The wood is black and shining, and pleasing to 
the eye, without any adventitious aid from art. The other 
kind of ebony is the produce of a shrub which resemblesthe 
cytisus, and is to be found scattered over the whole of India. 


There is in India, also, a kind of thorn 37 very similar to 
ebony, though it may be distinguished from it, by the aid of 
a lantern even ; for, on the application of flame, it will in- 
stantly run across the tree. We will now proceed to describe 
those trees which were the admiration of Alexander the Great 
in his victorious career, when that part of the world was first 
revealed by his arms. 


The Indian fig 38 bears but a small fruit. Always growing 
spontaneously, it spreads far and wide with its vast branches, 
the ends of which bend downwards into the ground to such a 
degree, that they take fresh root in the course of a year, and 
thus form a new plantation around the parent stock, traced in 
a circular form, just as though it had been the work of the 
ornamental gardener. Within the bowers thus formed, the 
shepherds take up their abode in the summer, the space occu- 
pied by them being, at once, overshadowed and protected by 

se Fee remarks, that the words of Pliny do not afford us any means of 
judging precisely what tree it was that he understood by the name of ebony. 
He borrows his account mainly from Theophrastus. 

37 It is not known to what tree he alludes. 

s 8 This account of the Ficus Indica, or religiosa, known to us as toe 
banian-tree, is borrowed entirely from Theophrastus. Fee remarks, how- 
ever, that he is wrong in some of his statements, for that the leaves are not 
jjrescent-shaped, but oblong and pointed, and that the fruit has not a plea- 
sant flavour, and is only eaten by the birds. 


the bulwark which the tree thus throws around ; a most 
graceful sight, whether we stand beneath and look upwards, 
or whether we view its arcaded foliage from a distance. The 
higher branches, however, shoot upwards to a very consider- 
able height, and, by their number, form quite a grove, spring- 
ing aloft from the vast trunk of the parent tree, which 
overspreads, very frequently, a space of sixty paces in extent, 
while the shade that is thrown by it will cover as much as 
a couple of stadia. The broad leaves of the tree have just the 
shape of an Amazonian buckler; and hence it is that the 
fruit, from being quite covered by the leaves, is greatly impeded 
in its growth. The fruit, indeed, of this tree is but scanty, 
and never exceeds a bean in size ; being ripened, however, by 
the rays of the sun, as these penetrate the leaves, the figs are 
remarkable for their singular lusciousness, and are quite worthy 
of the marvellous tree by which they are produced. These 
fig-trees are found, more particularly, in the vicinity of the 
river Acesines. 39 

CHAP. 12. (6.) — the pala: the petjit called aeiena. 

There is another tree 40 in India, of still larger size, and 
even more remarkable for the size and sweetness of its fruit, 
upon which the sages 41 of India- live. The leaf of this tree 
resembles, in shape, the wing of a bird, being three cubits in 
length, and two in breadth. It puts forth its fruit from the 
bark, a fruit remarkable for the sweetness of its juice, a single 
one containing sufficient to satisfy four persons. The name of 
this tree is "pala," and of the fruit, " ariena." They are found in 
the greatest abundance in the country of the Sydraci, 42 a terri- 
tory which forms the extreme limit of the expedition of Alex- 

There is another 43 tree, also, very similar to this, but bearing 
a still sweeter fruit, though very apt to cause derangement of 

39 See B. vi. c. 23. 

40 Sprengel and Bauhin are of opinion that the banana is the tree meant 
here ; Dodonaeus thinks that it is the pomegranate. Thevet says that the 
pala is the paquovera of India, the fruit of which is called pacona. The 
account is borrowed from Tbeophrastus. 

41 The Gymnosophists, or Brahmins. 

42 Called Syndraci in B. vi. c. 25, 

43 It is not improbable that the Tamavindus Indica of Linnaeus is the 
tree here alluded to : though M. Fee combats that opinion. 

Chap. 14-] THE PEPPER-TREE. 1 1 1 

the bowels. Alexander issued strict orders, forbidding any- 
one in the expedition to touch this fruit. 



The Macedonians 44 have made mention of various other 
kinds of trees, the greater part of which, however, are without 
names. There is one which resembles the terebinth 45 in every 
respect, except the fruit, which is very similar to the almond, 
though less in size, and remarkable for its extreme sweetness. 
This tree was met with in Bactria, and some persons looked 
upon it as a variety of the terebinth, rather than as bearing a 
strong resemblance to it. As to the tree from which they 
manufacture a kind of linen 46 cloth, in leaf it resembles the 
mulberry-tree, while the calix of the fruit is similar to the 
dog-rose. 47 This tree is reared in the plains, and there is no 
sight throughout the cultivated parts of the country that is 
more enchanting than the plantations of it. 



The olive-tree 48 of India is unproductive, with the sole 
exception of the wild olive. In every part we meet with trees 
that bear pepper, 49 very similar in appearance to our junipers, 

44 See Theoplirastus, B. iv. c. 5. 

45 Dalechamps and Desfontaines are of opinion, that the pistachio, or 
Pistacia terebiuthus of Linnaeus, is here alluded to ; but Fee considers that 
there are no indications to lead to such a conclusion. 

46 It is not improbable that he may here allude to the cotton-tree, of 
which further mention is made in c. xxi. of the present Book. 

47 Fee is of opinion thatCynorrhodon here means, hot the dog-rose, but 
the gall which is formed on the tree by the sting of the Cynips bedeguar. 

48 Fee expresses himself at a loss to conjecture what trees are here meant 
by Pliny. 

49 Fee remarks, that there are many inaccuracies in the account here 
given by Pliny of the pepper-tree, and that it does not bear any resem- 
blance to the j uniper-tree. The grains, he says, grow in clusters, and not 
in a husk or pod ; and he- remarks, that the long pepper and the black pep- 
per, of which the white is only a variety divested of the outer coat, are 
distinct spe3ies. He also observes, that the real long pepper, the Piper 
longum of Linnaeus, was not known to the ancients. 


although, indeed, it has been alleged by some authors that they 
only grow on the slopes of Caucasus which lie exposed to the 
sun. The seeds, however, differ from those of the juniper, in 
being enclosed in small pods similar to those which we see in 
the kidney-bean. These pods are picked before they open, 
and when dried in the sun, make what we call " long pepper." 
But if allowed to ripen, they will open gradually, and when 
arrived at maturity, discover the white pepper; if left ex- 
posed to the heat of the sun, this becomes wrinkled, and changes 
its colour. Even these productions, however, are subject to 
their own peculiar infirmities, and are apt to become blasted 
by the inclemency of the weather ; in which case the seeds 
are found to be rotten, and mere husks. These abortive seeds are 
known by the name of " bregma/' a word which in the Indian 
language signifies " dead." Of all the various kinds of pepper, 
this is the most pungent, as well as the very lightest, and is 
remarkable for the extreme paleness of its colour. That which 
is black is of a more agreeable flavour ; but the white pepper 
is of a milder quality than either. 

The root of this tree is not, as many persons have imagined, 
the same as the substance known as zimpiberi, or, as some call 
it, zingiberi, or ginger, although it is very like it in taste. 
For ginger, in fact, grows in Arabia and . in Troglodytica, in 
various cultivated spots, being a small plant 50 with a white 
root. This plant is apt to decay very speedily, although it is 
of intense pungency ; the price at which it sells is six denarii 
per pound. Long pepper is very easily adulterated with 
Alexandrian mustard ; its price is fifteen denarii per pound, 
while that of white pepper is seven, and of black, four. It is 
quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into 
fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is 
sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that 
has attracted our notice ; whereas, pepper has nothing in it 
that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its 
only desirable quality being a certain pungency ; and yet it is 
for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was 
the first to make trial of it as an article of food ? and who, I 
wonder, was the man that was not content to prepare himself 

50 Fee remarks, that this is not a correct description of ginger, the Amo- 
Jnum zingiher of Linnaeus. Dioscorides was one of those who thought 
that ginger was the root of the pepper- tree. 

Chap. 15.] CARYOPHYLLOtf. 113 

by hunger only for the satisfying of a greedy appetite ? Both 
pepper and ginger grow wild in their respective countries, and 
yet here we buy them by weight — just as if they were so 
much gold or silver. Italy, 31 too, now possesses a species of 
pepper-tree, somewhat larger than the myrtle, and not very 
unlike it. The bitterness of the grains is similar to that which 
we may reasonably suppose to exist in the Indian pepper 
when newly gathered ; but it is wanting in that mature fla- 
vour which the Indian grain acquires by exposure in the sun, 
and, consequently, bears no resemblance to it, either in colour 
or the wrinkled appearance of the seeds. Pepper is adulterated 
with juniper berries, which have the property, to a marvellous 
degree, of assuming the pungency of pepper. In reference to 
its weight, there are also several methods of adulterating it. 



There is, also, in India another grain which bears a consi- 
derable resemblance to pepper, but is longer and more brittle ; 
it is known by the name of caryophyllon. 52 It is said that 
this grain is produced in a sacred grove in India ; with us it 
is imported for its aromatic perfume. The same country pro- 
duces, also, a thorny shrub, with grains which bear a resem- 
blance to pepper, and are of a remarkably bitter taste. The 
leaves of this shrub are small, like those of the Cyprus ; 53 the 
branches are three cubits in length, the bark pallid, and the 
roots wide-spreading and woody, and of a colour resembling 
that of boxwood. By boiling this root with the seed in a 
copper vessel, the medicament is prepared which is known by 
the name of lycion. 54 This thorny shrub grows, also, on 

51 It is very doubtful what tree is here alluded to by Pliny, though cer- 
tain that it is not one of the pepper-trees. Sprengel takes it to be the 
Daphne Thymelaea. 

52 It has been suggested that under this name the clove is meant, though 
Fee and Desfontaines express a contrary opinion. Sprengel thinks that it 
is the Vitex trifolia of Linnseus, and Bauhin suggests the cubeb, the Piper 
cubeba of Linnseus. Fee thinks it may have possibly been the Myrtus 
caryophyllata of Ceylon, the fruit of which corresponds to the description 
here given by Pliny. 

53 See c. 52 of the present Book. 

54 Or " Lycium." It is impossible to say with exactness what the medical 
liquid called " Lycion " was. Catechu, an extract from the tan of the 
acacia, has been suggested ; though the fruit of that tree does not answer 
the present description. 


114 pliny's natubal history. [Book XII. 

Mount Pelion ; 65 this last kind is much used for the purpose 
of adulterating the medicament above mentioned. The root 
of the asphodel, ox-gall, wormwood, sumach, and the amurca 
of olive oil, are also employed for a similar purpose. The best 
lycion for medicinal purposes, is that which has a froth on its 
surface ; the Indians send it to us in leather bottles, made of 
the skin of the camel or the rhinoceros. The shrub itself is 
known by some persons in Greece under the name of the 
Chironian pyxacanthus. 56 

chap. 16. (8.) — MACIE. 

Macir, 57 too, is a vegetable substance that is brought from 
India, being a red bark that grows upon a large root, and bears 
the name of the tree that produces it ; what the nature of this 
tree is, I have not been able to ascertain. A decoction of this 
bark, mixed with honey, is greatly employed in medicine, as a 
specific for dysentery. 


Arabia, too, produces sugar ; 58 but that of India is the most 
esteemed. This substance is a kind of honey, which collects 

55 Fee suggests that this may possibly be the Lycium Europseum of 
Linnaeus, a shrub not uncommonly found in the south of Europe. 

56 The Ehamnus Lycioides of Linnaeus, known to us as buckthorn. The 
berries of many varieties of the Rhamnus are violent purgatives. 

57 "What he means under this head is not known. Fee speaks of a tree 
which the Brahmins call macre, and which the Portuguese called arvore 
de las camaras, arvore sancto, arvore de sancto Thome, but of which they 
have given no further particulars. Acosta, Clusius, and Bauhin have also 
professed to give accounts of it, but they do not lead to its identification. 
De Jussieu thinks that either the Soulamea, the Rex amaroris of Rumphius, 
or else the Polycardia of Commerson is meant. It seems by no means im- 
possible that mace, the covering of the nutmeg, is the substance alluded to, 
an opinion that is supported by Gerard and Desfontaines. 

58 " Saecharon." Fee suggests that Pliny alludes to a peculiar kind 
of crystallized sugar, that is found in the bamboo cane, though, at 
the same time, he thinks it not improbable that he may have heard of 
the genuine sugar-cane ; as Strabo, B. xv., speaks of a honey found in 
India, prepared without the aid of bees, and Lucan has the line — 

" Quique bibunt tenera dulces ab arundine succos," 
evidently referring to a sugar in the form of a syrup, and not of crystal, 
like that of the Bambos arundinacea. It is by no means improbable, that 
Pliny, or rather Dioscorides, from whom he copies, confuses the two kinds 
of sugar ; as it is well known that the Saccharum officinarum, or sugar- 
cane, has been cultivated from a very early period in Arabia Felix. 

Chap. 19.] TREES OF BACTEIANA. 1 1 5 

in reeds, white, like gum, and brittle to the teeth. The 
larger pieces are about the size of a filbert ; it is only em- 
ployed, however, in medicine. 


On the frontiers of India is a country called Ariana, which 
produces a thorny shrub, 59 rendered precious by the tears 
which it distils. It bears some resemblance to myrrh, but is 
very difficult of access, by reason of the thorns with which it 
is' armed. Here, too, a poisonous shrub is found, with a root 
like the radish, 60 and leaves like those of the laurel, By its 
powerful odour it attracts horses, and was very nearly depriv- 
ing Alexander of all his cavalry upon his first arrival there, 
an accident which also happened in Gedrosia. A thorny 
shrub 61 has been also spoken of as a native of the same 
country, with leaves like those of the laurel, the juice of 
which, if sprinkled upon the eyes, is productive of blindness 
in all animals. Another plant is also mentioned, with a most 
remarkable odour, and full of diminutive serpents, 63 the sting 
of which is sure to cause instant death. Onesicritus states, 
that in the vallies of Hyrcania, there is a tree resembling the 
fig, and known as the occhus, 63 from which a honey distils 
for two hours every morning. 



89 It is unknown what plant is here alluded to by Pliny, hut Sprengel 
suggests that it is the Acacia latronum. 

60 From the description, this would appear to be a sort of poisonous 

61 There is a tree in India, as we are informed by Fee, which is known 
as the Exca3caria Agallochum, the juice of which is remarkably acrid. 
Sailors r on striking it with a hatchet, and causing the juice to spirt into 
their eyes, have been in danger of losing their sight. It is possible that 
this may be the tree here alluded to by Pliny. 

62 He borrows the account of this marvellous shrub from Theophrastus. 
No such plant is likely to have ever existed ; though small, and even large, 
snakes may occasionally take refuge among shruhs and hollow trees. 

63 There is little doubt that the Hedysarum Alhagi of Linnaeus is here 
meant, from which a kind of honey or manna flows, known as " Eastern " 
manna, or tereniahin. It is not so high as the fig-tree, and is found in 
Khorasan, Syria, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere. The manna distils prin- 
cipally in the morning. 

I 2 



In the vicinity, too, of India, is Bactriana, in which region 
■we find bdellium, 64 that is so highly esteemed. This tree is of a 
black colour, and about the size of the olive ; it has leaves like 
those of the robur, and bears a fruit similar to that of the wild 
fig, and in nature resembling a kind of gum. This fruit is 
by some persons called brochon, by others malacha, and by 
others, again, maldacon. "When of a black colour, and rolled 
up in cakes, it bears the name of hadrobolon. This substance 
ought to be transparent and the colour of wax, odoriferous, 
unctuous when subjected to friction, and bitter to the taste, 
though without the slightest acidity. When used for sacred 
purposes, it is steeped in wine, upon which it emits a still 
more powerful odour. The tree is a native of both India and 
Arabia, as well as Media and Babylon ; some persons give to 
the bdellium that is imported by way of Media, the name of 
peraticum. 63 This last is remarkable for its brittleness, while, 
at the same time, it is harder and more bitter than the other 
kinds ; that of India, on the other hand, is moister, and gummy. 
This last sort is adulterated by means of almonds, while the 
various other kinds are falsified with the bark of scordastum, 
that being the name of a tree 66 the gum of which strongly re- 
sembles bdellium. These adulterations, however, are to be 
detected — and let it suffice to mention it here, in relation to all 
other perfumes as well — by the smell, the colour, the weight, 
the taste, and the action of fire. The bdellium of Bactriana 
is shining and dry, and covered with numerous white spots 
resembling the finger-nails ; besides which, it should be of a 
certain weight, heavier or lighter than which it ought not to 
be. The price of bdellium, in its pure state, is three denarii 
per pound. 

64 Fee remarks, that it is singular that a resinous gum, such as bdel- 
lium, should have been used in commerce for now two thousand years, 
and yet its origin remain unknown. Ksempfer and Kumphus are of 
opinion, that the tree which produces it is the one known to naturalists as 
the Borassus flahelliformis of Linnseus, or the Lontarus of others. It is 
imported into Europe from Arabia and India, and is often found mixed 
with gum Arabic. 

65 UtpaTiKov; from 7repara y^c, "the remotest parts of the earth," 
from which it was brought. 

66 The modem name of this tree is unknown. 

Chap. 21.] THE COTTON TREE. 117 


Adjoining the countries which we have previously mentioned 
is Persis, lying along the shores of the Bed Sea, which, when 
describing 67 it, we have mentioned as the Persian Sea, the tides 
of which peDetrate far into the land. The trees in these 
regions are of a marvellous nature ; for, corroded by the action 
of the salt, and bearing a considerable resemblance to vegeta- 
ble substances that have been thrown up and abandoned by 
the tide, they are seen to embrace the arid sands of the sea- 
shore with their naked roots, just like so many polypi. "When 
the tide rises, buffeted by the waves, there they stand, fixed 
and immoveable ; nay, more, at high water they are completely 
covered ; a fact which proves to conviction, that they derive 
their nutriment from the salt contained in the water. The 
size of these trees is quite marvellous; in appearance they 
strongly resemble the arbute ; the fruit, which on the outside 
is very similar to the almond, has a spiral kernel within. 68 



In the same gulf, there is the island of Tylos, 69 covered with 
a forest 70 on the side which looks towards the East, where it 
is washed also by the sea at high tides. Each of the trees 
is in size as large as the fig ; the blossoms are of an indescri- 
bable sweetness, and the fruit is similar in shape to a lupine, 
but so rough and prickly, that it is never touched by any ani- 
mal. On a more elevated plateau of the same island, we find 
trees that bear wool, but of a different nature from those of the 
Seres ; 71 as in these trees the leaves produce nothing at all, 
and, indeed, might very readily be taken for those of the vine. 

e? B. vi. c. 28. 

68 -It is supposed that the Rhizophora Mangle of Linnams is the tree 
that is here described. It grows on all the coasts of India, from Siam to 
the entrance of the Persian Gulf. It takes root on spots which have been 
inundated by the sea, and its boughs bend downwards, and taking root in 
the earth, advance gradually towards the sea. The leaf and fruit have the 
characteristics of those of the arbute and almond as here mentioned. 

69 B. vi. c. 32. 

70 Fee suggests that some kind of mangrove is probably alluded to, of 
the kind known as avicennia, or bruguiera. 

7i See B. vi. c. 20. 

118 plant's NATUBAL HISTOEY. [Cook XII. 

were it not that they are of smaller size. They bear a kind of 
gourd, about the size of a quince ; n which, when arrived at 
maturity, bursts asunder and discloses a ball of down, from 
which a costly kind of linen cloth is made. 

(11.) This tree is known by the name of gossypinus : 73 
the smaller island of Tylos, which is ten miles distant from the 
larger one, produces it in even greater abundance. 



Juba states, that about a certain shrub there grows a woolly 
down, from which a fabric is manufactured, preferable even to 
those of India. He adds, too, that certain trees of Arabia, 
from which vestments are made, are called cynse, and that they 
have a leaf similar to that of the palm. Thus do their very 
trees afford clothing for the people of India. In the islands of 
Tylos, there is also another tree, with a blossom like the white 
violet u in appearance, though four times as large, but it is 
destitute of smell, a very remarkable fact in these climates. 



There is also another tree similar to the preceding one, but 
with a thicker foliage, and a blossom like the rose. This flower 
shuts 75 at night, and, beginning to open towards sun-rise, 
appears in full blow by mid-day ; the natives are in the habit 
of saying that in this way it goes to sleep. The same island 
bears also the palm, the olive, the vine, and the fig, with 
various other kinds of fruit. None of the trees in this island 
lose their leaves ; 76 it is abundantly watered by cool streams, 
and receives the benefit of rain. 

72 " Cotonei." To this resemblance of its fruit to the quince, the cotton- 
tree, which is here alluded to, not improbably owes its modern name. 

73 The cotton-tree, or Gossypium arboreum of Linnaeus. It is worthy 
of remark, tbat Pliny copies here almost literally from Theophrastus. Ac- 
cording to Philostratus, the byssus, or fine tissues worn by the Egyptian 
priests, were made of cotton. 

71 The Malthiola incana. 

75 Fee suggests that this may be a Magnolia ; but, as he remarks, most 
plants open and shut at certain hours ; consequently, this cannot be re- 
garded as any peculiar characteristic, sufficient to lead with certainty to 
its identification. 

76 Theophrastus, from whom our author is copying, says that this is the 
case only with the fig-tree there. 

KATVD. 119 

Chap. 26.1 


Arabia, which is in the vicinity of these islands, requires 
that we should make some distinction in its vegetable products, 
seeing that here the various parts of trees which are em- 
ployed for useful purposes are the root, the branches, the 
bark, the juices, the gum, the wood, the shoots, the blossoms, 
the leaves, and the fruit. 

chap. 25. (12.)— COSTUS. 

A root and a leaf, however, are the productions which are 
held in the very highest estimation in India. The root is that 
of the costus ; 77 it has a burning taste in the mouth, and a 
most exquisite odour ; in other respects, the branches are good 
tor nothing. In the island of Patale, 78 situate at the very 
mouth of the river Indus, there are two kinds of costus found, 
the black and the white ; the last is considered the best. The 
price of it is five denarii per pound. 


Of the leaf, which is that of the nard, 79 it is only right to 
speak somewhat more at length, as it holds the principal place 
among our unguents. The nard is a shrub with a heavy, 
thick root, but short, black, brittle, and yet unctuous as well ; 

W According to most commentators, this is the Costus Arabicus of Lin- 
nams Dioscorides mentions three varieties of costus : the Arabian, which 
is of the best quality, and is white and odoriferous; the Indian which is 
black and smooth ; and the Syrian, which is of the colour of wax, dusky, and 
6tron°- smelling. Fee, however, doubts whether the modern costus is the 
same°thing as that of the ancients ; for, as he says, although it has a sweet 
odour, it does not deserve the appellation of a " precious aromatic, which 
we find constantly given to it by the ancients. 

w SeeB. vi. c. 23. . 

79 It is probable that the nard of the ancients, from which they extracted 
the famous nard-oil, was not the same plant which we know as the Indian 
nard or Andropogon nardus of Linnseus. Indeed, it has been pretty con- 
clusively established by Sir William Jones, in his « Asiatic Researches," 
that the Valeriana Jatamansi is the plant from which they obtained the oil. 
Among the Hindoos, it is known as djatamansi, and by the Arabs under 
the name of sombul, or " spike," from the fact of the base being surrounded 
with ears or spikes, whence, probably, the Roman appellation. Ihis spe- 
cies of valerian grows in the more distant and mountainous parts oi India, 
Bootan and Nepaul, for instance. 

120 plint's katueal HISTOEY. [Book XII. 

it has a musty smell, too, very much like that of the cyperus, 
with a sharp, acrid taste, the leaves being small, and growing 
in tufts. The heads of the nard spread out into ears ; hence 
it is that nard is so famous for its two-fold production, the 
spike or ear, and the leaf. There is another kind, again, that 
grows on the banks of the Ganges, but is altogether con- 
demned, as being good for nothing; it bears the name of 
ozsenitis, 80 and emits a fetid odour. Nard is adulterated 
with a sort of plant called pseudo-nard, 81 which is found 
growing everywhere, and is known by its thick, broad leaf, 
and its sickly colour, which inclines to white. It is so- 
phisticated, also, by being mixed with the root of the genuine 
nard, which adds very considerably to its weight. Gum is 
also used for the same purpose, antimony, and cyperus ; or, 
at least, the outer coat of the cyperus. Its genuineness is tested 
by its lightness, the redness of its colour, its sweet smell, and 
the taste more particularly, which parches the mouth, and 
leaves a pleasant flavour behind it ; the price of spikenard is 
one hundred denarii per pound. 

Leaf 82 nard varies in price according to the size ; for that 
which is known by the name of hadrosphaerum, consisting of 
the larger leaves, sells at forty denarii per pound ; when the 
leaves are smaller, it is called mesosphaerum, and is sold at 
sixty. But that which is considered the most valuable of all, 
is known as microsphaerum, and consists of the very smallest 
of the leaves ; it sells at seventy-five denarii per pound. All 
these varieties of nard have an agreeable odour, but it is most 
powerful when fresh. If the nard is old when gathered, that 
which is of a black colour is considered the best. 

In our part of the world, the Syrian 83 nard is held in the 

80 From the Greek, o^aiva, " a putrid sore." Fee suggests that this 
may have been the Nardus hadrosphaerum of the moderns. 

81 Fee supposes that this is not lavender, as some have thought, but the 
Allium victorialis of modern naturalists, which is still mixed with the nard 
from the Andropogon. He doubts the possibility of its haying been adul- 
terated with substances of such a different nature as those mentioned here 
by Pliny. 

82 Fee is of opinion, that the Greek writers, from whom Pliny copied 
this passage, intended to speak of the ears of nard, or spikenard. 

83 According to Dioscorides, this appellation only means such nard as is 
cultivated in certain mountains of India which look toward Syria, and 
which, according to that author, was the best nard of all. Dalechamps and 
Hardouin, however, ridicule this explanation of the term. 

Chap. 27.] ASAEUM, OE FOAL-FOOT. 121 

next highest esteem next to this; then the Gallic; 84 and in 
the third place, that of Crete, 85 which by some persons is 
called "agrion," and by others "phu." This last has exactly the 
leaf of the olusatrum, 86 with a stalk a cubit in length, knotted, 
of a whitish colour, inclining to purple, and a root that runs 
sideways ; it is covered, too, with long hair, and strongly 
resembles the foot of a bird. Field nard is known by the 
name of baccar. 87 We shall have further occasion to mention 
it when we come to speak of the flowers. All these kinds^ of 
nard, however, are to be reckoned as herbs, with the exception 
of Indian nard. Of these, the Gallic kind is pulled up along 
with the root, and washed in wine ; after which it is dried in 
the shade, and wrapped up in paper, in small parcels. It is 
not very different from the Indian nard, but is lighter than 
that of Syria ; the price at which it sells is three denarii per 
pound. The only way of testing the leaves of all these 
varieties of nard, is to see that they are not brittle and parched, 
instead of being dried naturally and gradually. Together 
with the nard that grows in Gaul, there always 88 springs up 
a herb, which is known by the name of hirculus, or the 
" little goat," on account of its offensive smell, it being very 
similar to that of the goat. This herb, too, is very much, used 
in the adulteration of nard, though it differs from it in the 
fact that it has no stem, and its leaves are smaller ; the root, 
too, is not bitter, and is entirely destitute of smell. 


The herb asarum, 89 too, has the properties of nard, and, 
indeed, by some persons is known as wild nard. It has a leaf, 

84 Generally supposed to be the Valeriana Celtica of modern naturalists. 
See B. xxi. c. 79. 

85 Probably the Valeriana Italica of modern naturalists. 
8 e See B. xix. c. 48. 

8 ' Known in this country as fox-glove, our Lady's gloves, sage of Jeru- 
salem, or clown's spikenard. See B. xxi. c. 16. 

88 Not always, but very seldom, Brotier says. Clusius has established, 
from observation, that this plant is only a variety of the Valeriana Celtica. 

*» Fee remarks, that the name " baccara," in Greek, properly belonged 
to this plant, but that if was transferred by the Komans to the field nard, 
with which the Asarum had become confounded. It is the same as the 
Asarum Europaeum of modern naturalists ; but it does not, as Pliny asserts, 
flower twice in the year. 

122 plint's katttbal histoky. [Book XII. 

however, more like that of the ivy, only that it is rounder and 
softer. The flower is purple, the root very similar to that of 
the Gallic nard, and the seed is like a grape. It is of a warm 
and vinous flavour, and blossoms twice a year, growing upon 
hill sides that are densely shaded. The best kind is that found 
in Pontus, and the next best that of Phrygia ; that of Illyri- 
cum being only of third-rate quality. The root is dug up 
when it is just beginning to put forth its leaves, and then dried 
in the sun. It very soon turns mouldy, and loses rts properties. 
There has, also, been lately found a certain herb in some parts 
of Greece, the leaves of which do not differ in the slightest 
degree from those of the Indian nard. 


The clustered amomum 90 is very extensively used ; it 
grows upon a kind of wild vine that is found in India, though 
some persons have been of opinion that it is borne by a shrub, 
resembling the myrtle in appearance, and about the same 
height as the palm. This plant, also, is plucked along with 
the root, and is carefully pressed together with the hands ; for 
it very soon becomes brittle. That kind is held in the highest 
esteem, the leaves of which bear a strong resemblance to those 
of the pomegranate, being free from wrinkles, and of a red 
colour. The second quality is that which is of a pallid hue. 
That which has a green, grassy appearance, is not so good, 
and the white is the worst of all ; it assumes this appearance 
when old. The price of clustered amomum is sixty denarii per 
pound, but in dust it sells at only forty-nine. Amomum is pro- 
duced, also, in that part of Armenia which is known as Otene ; 
as, also, in Media and Pontus. It is adulterated with the leaves 
of the pomegranate and a solution of gum, which is employed 

90 It is by no means settled among naturalists, what plant the Amomum 
of the ancients was ; indeed, there has been the greatest divergence of 
opinion. Tragus takes it to be a kind of bindweed : Matthioli, the Piper 
iEthiopicuni of Linnaeus : Cordus and Scaliger, the rose of Jericho, the 
Anastatica hierocuntica of Linnaeus. Gesner thinks it to have been the 
garden pepper, the Solanum bacciferum of Tournefort: Csesalpinus the 
cubeb, the Piper cubeba of Linnaeus : Plukenet and Sprengel the Cissus 
vitiginea, whde Fee and Paulet look upon it as not improbably identical 
with the Amomum racemosum of Linnaeus. The name is probably derived 
from the Arabic hahmama, the Arabians having first introduced it to the 
notice of the Greeks. 


in order to make the leaves adhere and form clusters, like 
those of the grape. 

There is another substance, also, which is known by the 
name of amomis ; 91 it is not so full of veins as amomum, 
harder, and not so odoriferous ; from which it would appear, 
either that it is altogether a different plant, or else that it is 
amomum gathered in an unripe state. 


Similar to these substances, both in name as well as the 
shrub which produces it, is the cardamomum, 92 the seeds of 
which are of an oblong shape. It is gathered in the same 
manner both in India and Arabia. There are four different 
kinds of cardamomum. That which is of a very green colour, 
unctuous, with sharp angles, and very difficult to break, is the 
most highly esteemed of all. The next best is of a reddish 
white tint, while that of third-rate quality is shorter and 
blacker, the worst of all being mottled and friable, and emit- 
ting but little smell ; which, in its genuine 93 state ought to be 
very similar to costum. Cardamomum grows also in Media. 
The price of the best is three denarii per pound. 


Next in affinity to cardamomum would have been cinnamo- 
mum, 94 and this we should have now proceeded to speak of, were 
it not more convenient first to make mention of the treasures 
of Arabia, and the reasons for which that country has received 
the names of "Happy" and " Blest." The chief productions 
of Arabia are frankincense and myrrh, which last it bears in 

91 Supposed to have been only the Amomum, in an unripe state, as Pliny 
himself suggests. 

92 Still known in pharmacy as " cardamum." It is not, however, as 
Pliny says, found in Arabia, but in India ; from which it probably reached 
the Greeks and Romans by way of the Red Sea. There are three kinds 
known in modern commerce, the large, the middle size, and the small. 
M. Bonastre, " Journal de Pharmacie," May, 1828, is of opinion, that the 
word cardamomum signifies " amomum in pods," the Egyptian kardh 
meaning "pod," or "husk." It is, however, more generally supposed, 
that the Greek word, icapdia, " heart," enters into its composition. 

93 u y erus " seems a preferable reading here to " vero," which has been 
adopted by Sillig. 

94 See c. 42 of the present Book. 

124 plikt's NATUEAL HISTOEY. [Book XII. 

common with the country of the Troglodyte. (14.) There is 
no country in the world that produces frankincense except 
Arabia, 95 and, indeed, not the whole of that. Almost in the 
very centre of that region, are the Atramitae, 96 a community of 
the Sab&ei, the capital of whose kingdom is Sabota, a place 
situate on a lofty mountain. At a distance of eight stations 
from this is the incense-bearing region, known by the name 
of Saba. The Greeks say that the word signifies a " secret 
mystery." This district looks towards the north-east, and 
is rendered inaccessible by rocks on every side, while it is 
bounded on the right by the sea, from which it is shut out by 
cliffs of tremendous height. The soil of this territory is said 
to be of a milky white, a little inclining to red. The forests 
extend twenty schceni in length, and half that distance in 
breadth. The length of the schcenus, according to the esti- 
mate of Eratosthenes, is forty stadia, or, in other words, five 
miles ; some persons, however, have estimated the schcenus at 
no more than thirty-two stadia. In this district some lofty 
hills take their rise, and the trees, which spring up sponta- 
neously, run downwards along the declivities to the plains. 
It is generally agreed that the soil is argillaceous, and that 
the springs which there take their rise are but few in number, 
and of a nitrous quality. Adjoining are the Minsei, the people 
of another community, through whose country is the sole tran- 
sit for the frankincense, along a single narrow road. The 

95 Virgil, Georg. B. ii, 1. 139, mentions Panchaia, in Arabia, as being 
more especially the country of frankincense. That region corresponds with 
the modern Yemen. It is, however, a well-ascertained fact, that it grows 
in India as well, and it is supposed that the greater part of it used by 
the ancients was in reality imported from that country. The Indian in- 
cense is the product of a tree belonging to the terebinth class^ named by 
Eoxburgh, who first discovered it, Boswellia thurifera. It is more espe- 
cially found in the mountainous parts of India. On the other hand, it has 
been asserted that the Arabian incense was the product of a coniferous tree, 
either the Juniperus Lycia, the Juniperus Phoenicea, or the Juniperus 
thurifera of Linnaeus. But, as Fee justly remarks, it would appear more 
reasonable to look among the terebinths of Arabia for the incense tree, if 
one of that class produces it in India, and more especially because the coni- 
ferous trees produce only resins, while the terebinths produce gum resins, 
to which class of vegetable products frankincense evidently belonged. In 
commerce, the gum resin, Olibanum, the produce of the Boswellia serrata, 
and imported from the Levant, bears the name of frankincense. 

96 See B. vi. c. 32. Their name is still preserved in the modern Hadra- 
niaut, to the east of Aden. 


Minaei were the first people who carried on any traffic in 
frankincense, which they still do to a greater extent than any 
other persons, and hence it is that it has received the appella- 
tion of " MinaBan." It is the Sabsei alone, and no other 
people among the Arabians, that behold the incense-tree ; and, 
indeed, not all of them, for it is said that there are not more 
than three thousand families which have a right to claim that 
privilege, by virtue of hereditary succession; and that for this 
reason those persons are called sacred, and are not allowed, 
while pruning the trees or gathering the harvest, to receive 
any pollution, either by intercourse with women, or coming in 
contact with the dead ; by these religious observances it is 
that the price of the commodity is so considerably enhanced. 
Some persons, however, say, that the right of gathering in- 
cense in the forests belongs to all these people in common, 
while others again state, that they take their turns year by 


Nor is it by any means agreed what is the appearance of 
the incense-tree. We have sent several expeditions against 
Arabia, and the Eoman arms have penetrated into the greater 
part of that country ; indeed, Caius Csasar, 97 the son of Augus- 
tus, even earned considerable renown there ; and yet this tree 
has been described by no Latin writer, at least that I know 
of. The descriptions given of it by the Greek writers vary 
very considerably : some of them say that it has exactly the 
leaf of the pear-tree, only somewhat smaller, and of a grass- 
green colour. Others, again, say, that it has a rather reddish 
leaf, like that of the mastich, and others, that it is a kind of 
terebinth, 98 and that King Antigonus, to whom a branch of it 
was brought, was of that opinion. King Juba, in the work 
which- he wrote and dedicated to Caius Caesar, the son of 
Augustus, who was inflamed by the wide-spread renown of 
Arabia, states, that the tree has a spiral stem, and that the 
branches bear a considerable resemblance to those of the Pontic 
maple, while it secretes a sort of juice very similar to that of 

9" See B. vi. cc. 31 and 32. He was the son cf Agrippa and Julia, the 

daughter of Augustus, bv whom he was adopted. 

as 3 This seems the most probable among these various surmises and con- 

126 pliny's natural history. [Book XII. 

the almond-tree. Such, he says, is the appearance of the tree 
as seen in Carmania and Egypt, where it was introduced and 
planted under the auspices of the Ptolemies when reigning 
there. It is well known that it has a bark not unlike that of 
the laurel, and, indeed, some persons have asserted that their 
leaves are similar. At all events, such was the case with the 
tree as it grew at Sardes : for the kings of Asia also took con- 
siderable care to have it planted there. The ambassadors 
who in my time have come to Eome from Arabia, have made 
all these matters more uncertain, even, than they were before ; 
a thing at which we may justly be surprised, seeing that 
some sprigs even of the incense-tree have been brought among 
us, from which we have some reason to conclude that the 
parent tree is round and tapering, and that it puts forth its 
shoots from a trunk that is entirely free from knots. 


In former times, when they had fewer opportunities of 
selling it, they used to gather the frankincense only once a 
year ; but at the present day, as there is a much greater de- 
mand for it, there is a second crop as well. The first, and 
what we may call the natural, vintage, takes place about the 
rising of the Dog-star, a period when the heat is most intense ; 
on which occasion they cut the tree where the bark appears 
to be the fullest of juice, and extremely thin, from being dis- 
tended to the greatest extent. The incision thus made is gra- 
dually extended, but nothing is removed ; the consequence of 
which is, that an unctuous foam oozes forth, which gradually 
coagulates and thickens. When the nature of the locality re- 
quires it, this juice is received upon mats of palm -leaves, though 
in some places the space around the tree is made hard by being 
well rammed down for the purpose. The frankincense that 
is gathered after the former method, is in the purest state, 
though that which falls on the ground is the heaviest in 
weight : that which adheres to the tree is pared off with an 
iron instrument, which accounts for its being found mingled 
with pieces of bark. 

The forest is allotted in certain portions, and such is the 
mutual probity of the owners, that it is quite safe from all 
depredation ; indeed, there is no one left to watch the trees 
after the incisions are made, and yet no one is ever known to 


plunder his neighbour. But, by Hercules ! at Alexandria, 
where the incense is dressed for sale, the workshops can never 
be guarded with sufficient care ; a seal is even placed upon the 
workmen's aprons, and a mask put upon the head, or else a 
net with very close meshes, while the people are stripped 
naked before they are allowed to leave work. So true it is 
that punishments afford less security among us than is to be 
found by these Arabians amid their woods and forests ! The 
incense which has accumulated during the summer is gathered 
in the autumn : it is the purest of all, and is of a white colour. 
The second gathering takes place in spring, incisions being 
made in the bark for that purpose during the winter : this, 
however, is of a red colour, and not to be compared with the 
other incense. The first, or superior kind of incense, is known 
as carnathum," the latter is called dathiathum. It is thought, 
also, that the incense which is gathered from the tree while 
young is the whitest, though the produce of the old trees has 
the most powerful smell ; some persons, too, have an impres- 
sion that the best incense is found in the islands, but Juba 
asserts that no incense at all is grown there. 

That incense which has hung suspended in globular drops is 
known to us as "male" frankincense, although it is mostly 
the case that we do not use the term " male" except in con- 
tradistinction to the word "female:" it has been attributed, 
however, to religious scruples, that the name of the other sex 
was not employed as a denomination for this substance. Some 
persons, again, are of opinion that the male frankincense has 
been so called from its resemblance 1 to the testes of the male. 
The incense, however, that is the most esteemed of all is that 
which is mammose, or breast-shaped, and is produced when 
one drop has stopped short, and another, following close upon 
it, has adhered, and united with it. I find it stated that one 
of these lumps used to make quite a handful, at a time when 
men displayed less eagerness to gather it, and it was allowed 
more time to accumulate. The Greeks call such lumps as 

99 These words are said by some to be derived from the Greek, Kaptybg, 
" a hollow stalk," on account of its lightness, and SpSiov, " a torch," on 
account of its resinous and inflammable qualities. It is, however, much 
more probable that they were derived from the Arabic, and not from the 
Celto-Scythic, as Poinsinet conjectures. 

1 Fee is probably right in his conjecture, that it was so called solely in 
consequence of its superior strength. 

128 plint's natural history. [Book XII. 

these by the name of stagonia 2 and atomus, 3 while the smaller 
pieces are called orobia. 4 The fragments which are broken off 
by shaking the tree are known to us as manna. 5 Even at the 
present day, however, there are drops found which weigh one- 
third of a mina, or, in other words, twenty-eight denarii. 
..Alexander the Great, when a boy, was on one occasion loading 
the altars with frankincense with the greatest prodigality, 
upon which his tutor Leonides 6 remarked to him that it 
would be time to worship the gods in such a lavish manner 
as that, when he had conquered the countries that produced 
the frankincense. After Alexandria had conquered Arabia, 
he despatched to Leonides a ship freighted with frankincense, 
and sent him word, requesting that he would now worship the 
gods without stint or limit. 

The incense, after being collected, is carried on camels' 
backs to Sabota, 7 at which place a single gate is left open for 
its admission. To deviate from the high road while convey- 
ing it, the laws have made a capital offence. At this place the 
priests take by measure, and not by weight, a tenth part in 
honour of their god, whom they call Sabis ; indeed, it is not 
allowable to dispose of it before this has been done : out of 
this tenth the public expenses are defrayed, for the divinity 
generously entertains all those strangers who have made a cer- 
tain number of days' journey in coming thither. The incense 
can only be exported through the country of the Gebanitae, 
and for this reason it is that a certain tax is paid to their 
king as well. Thomna, 9 which is their capital, is distant 
from Gaza, a city of Judsea, on the shores of our sea, 4436 10 

2 Meaning "drop" incense. 3 "Undivided" incense. 

4 From their being the size of an opofioQ, or "chick-pea." 

5 There is some doubt as to the correctness of this reading. The "manna" 
here mentioned is quite a different substance to the manna of modern com- 
merce, obtained from the Fraxinus ornus of naturalists. 

6 He was a kinsman of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, and a man 
of very austere habits. Plutarch says, that on this occasion Alexander 
sent to Leonidas 600 talents' weight of incense and myrrh. 

7 See B. vi. c. 32. 

8 Probably the same as the deity, Assabinus, mentioned by Pliny in c. 
42 of the present Book. Theophrastus mentions him as identical with the 
sun, others, again, with Jupiter. Theophrastus says that the god received 
not a tenth part, but a third. 

9 As to this place and the Gebanitae, see B. vi. c. 32. 

10 There must surely be some mistake in these numbers. 

Chap. 33.] MYElttl. 129 

miles, the distance being divided into sixty-five days' jonrney 
by camel. There are certain portions also of the frankincense 
which are given to the priests and the king's secretaries : and 
in addition to these, the keepers of it, as well as the soldiers 
who guard it, the gate-keepers, and various other employes, 
have their share as well. And then besides, all along the 
route, there is at one place water to pay for, at another fodder, 
lodging at the stations, and various taxes and imposts besides ; 
the consequence of which is, that the expense for each camel 
before it arrives at the shores of our 11 sea is six hundred and 
eighty-eight denarii ; after all this, too, there are certain pay- 
ments still to be made to the farmers of the revenue of our 
empire. Hence it is that a pound of the best frankincense 
sells at six denarii, the second quality five, and the third 
three. Among us, it is adulterated with drops of white resin, 
a substance which bears a strong resemblance to it : but the 
fraud may be easily detected by the methods which have 
been already mentioned. 13 It is tested by the following qua- 
lities ; its whiteness, size, brittleness, and the readiness with 
which it takes fire when placed on heated coals ; in addition 
to which, it should not give to the pressure of the teeth, but 
from its natural brittleness crumble all to pieces. 

CHAP. 33. (15.) HYEEH. 

According to some authors, myrrh 13 is the produce of a tree 
that grows in the same forests as the incense- tree, though 
most say that they grow in different places : but the fact is 
that myrrh grows in many parts of Arabia, as will be seen 
when we come to speak of the several varieties of it. A sort 
that is highly esteemed is brought from the islands u also, and 
the Sabaei even cross the sea to procure it in the country of 
the Troglodytaa. It is grown also by being transplanted, and 
when thus cultivated is greatly preferred to that which is 
grown in the forests. The plant is greatly improved by raking 

11 The Mediterranean. 12 In c. 19 of the present Book. 

13 It is supposed to be the product of an arayris, but is not now esteemed 
as a perfume; but is used in medicine as a tonic. Forskhal has attributed 
to the Amyris kataf, or kafal, the production of myrrh. According to 
Ehrenberg, a very similar tree, though constituting a different species, the 
Balsamodendrum myrrha, also produces this substance. It is imported 
into Europe from both Abyssinia and Arabia. It was much used by the 
ancients, to flavour their wines. 

j4 See B. vi. c. 32. 

VOL. in. K 


and baring the roots ; indeed, the cooler the roots are kept, the 
better it is. 


The tree grows to the height of five cubits, and has thorns 
upon it : the trunk is hard and spiral, and thicker than that 
of the incense-tree, and much more so at the root than at the 
upper part of the tree. Some authors have said that the bark 
is smooth like that of the arbute, others, that it is rough and 
covered with thorns : it has the leaf of the olive, but more wavy, 
with sharp points at the edges : Juba says, however, that it 
resembles the leaf of the olusatrum. Some again say that it 
resembles the juniper, 15 only that it is rougher and bristling 
with thorns, and that the leaves are of a rounder shape, though 
they have exactly the taste of the juniper. There have been 
some writers who have incorrectly asserted that both myrrh 
and frankincense are the product of the same tree. 


Incisions are made in the myrrh-tree also twice a year, and at 
the same season as in the incense- tree ; but in the case of the 
myrrh- tree they are all made the way up from the root as far as 
the branches which are able to bear it. The tree spontaneously 
exudes, before the incision is made, a liquid which bears the 
name of stacte, 16 and to which there is no rnyrrh that is supe- 
rior. Second only in quality to this is the cultivated myrrh : 
of the wild or forest kind, the best is that which is gathered in 
summer. They give no tithes of myrrh to the god, because it 
is the produce of other countries as well ; but the growers pay 
the fourth part of it to the king of the Gebanitae. Myrrh is 
bought up indiscriminately by the common people, and then 
packed into bags ; but our perfumers separate it without any 
difficulty, the principal tests of its goodness being its unctuous- 
ness and its aromatic smell. (16.) There are several 17 kinds 

15 Theophrastus says the terebinth. 

16 From the Greek (rra£w, " to drop." Fee observes, that the moderns 
know nothing positive as to the mode of extracting myrrh from the tree. 
See the account given by Ovid, Met. B. x. 1. 500 et seq. of the transforma- 
tion of Myrrha into this tree, — " The warm drops fall from the tree. The 
tears, even, have their own honour ; and the myrrh that distils from the 
bark bears the name of its mistress, and in no age will remain unknown." 

17 Fee remarks, that at the present day we are acquainted only with one 
kind of myrrh ; the fragments which bear an impression like those of nails 

Chap. 35.] MYERH. 131 

of myrrh; the first among the wild myrrhs is the Troglo- 
dytic; and the next are the Minaean, which includes the 
Atramitic, and that of Ausaritis, in the kingdom of the Geba- 
nitae. A third kind is the Dianitic, 18 and a fourth is the 
mixed myrrh, or " all-sorts ;" 19 a fifth, again, is the Sambra- 
cenian, which is brought from a city in the kingdom of the 
Sabaei, near the sea ; and a sixth is known by the name of 
Dusaritic. There is a white myrrh also, which is produced in 
only one spot, and is carried for sale to the city of Messalum. 
The Troglodytic myrrh is tested by its unctuousness, and its 
peculiarly dry appearance : it has also a dirty, rough look 
with it, but is more acrid than the other kinds. The Sanibra- 
cenian myrrh has none of these faults, and is more sightly in 
appearance than any of them, though it is far from being 
so powerful. In general, however, the proof of its goodness 
consists in its being separated in little pieces of uneven shape, 
formed by the concretion of a whitish juice, which dries up 
little by little. When broken it ought to exhibit white marks 
like the finger-nails, and to be slightly bitter to the taste. 
That of second quality is of a mottled appearance within ; 
while of worse quality is that which is of a black colour 
within ; the very worst of all is that which is black on the 
outside as well. 

The price of myrrh varies according to the number of pur- 
chasers. Stacte is sold at prices which vary from three de- 
narii to forty per pound, while the very highest price of the 
cultivated myrrh is eleven denarii. Erythraean myrrh, the 
same, it is pretended, as Arabian myrrh, is sixteen denarii per 
pound, Troglodytic also, is sixteen denarii ; and that known as 
odoraria, or odoriferous myrrh, sells at fourteen. Myrrh is 
adulterated with pieces of mastich, and other gums ; it is also 
drugged with the juice of wild cucumber, in order to produce 
a certain bitterness, and with litharge for the purpose of in- 
creasing its weight. Other sophistications may be discovered 
on tasting it, and the gum will adhere to the teeth. But the 

being not a distinct kind, but a simple variety in appearance only. He 
thinks, also, that Pliny may very possibly be describing several distinct 
resinous products, under the one name of myrrh. An account of tbese 
various districts will be found in B. vi. c. 32. 

18 Hardouin suggests that it may be so called from the island of Dia, 
mentioned by Strabo, B. xvi. 

19 " Collatitia." The reading, however, is very doubtful. 

E 2 

132 ploy's natural history. [Book XII. 

cleverest mode of. adulterating it is with Indian myrrh, 5 ® a 
substance which is gathered from a certain prickly shrub which 
grows there. This is the only thing that India produces of 
worse quality than the corresponding produce _ of other coun- 
tries : they may, however, be very easily distinguished, that 
of India being so very much inferior. 

CHAP. 36. (17.) MASTICH. 

The transition, therefore, 21 is very easy to mastich, which 
grows upon another prickly shrub of India and Arabia, known 
by the name of laina. Of mastich as well there are two dif- 
ferent kinds ; for in Asia and Greece there is also found a herb 
which puts forth leaves from the root, and bears a thistly 
head, resembling an apple, and full of seeds. Upon an inci- 
sion being made in the upper part of this plant drops distil 
from it, which can hardly be distinguished from the genuine 
mastich. There is, again, a third sort, 22 found in Pontus, but 
more like bitumen than anything else. The most esteemed, 
however, of all these, is the white mastich of Chios, the price 
of which is twenty denarii per pound, while the black mastich 
sells at twelve. It is said that the mastich of Chios exudes 
from the lentisk in the form of a sort of gum : like frank- 
incense, it is adulterated with resin. 


Arabia, too, still boasts of her ladanum. 23 Many writers 

20 What this was is now unknown. Fee suggests that it may have been 
bdellium, which is found in considerable quantities in the myrrh that is 
imported at the present day. 

2i This is most probably the meaning of Pliny's expression—" Ergo 
transit in mastichen ;" though Hardouin reads it as meaning that myrrh 
sometimes degenerates to mastich : and Fee, understanding the passage in 
the same sense, remarks that the statement is purely fabulous. Mastich, 
he says, is the produce of the Pistacia lentiscus of Linnaeus, which abounds 
in Greece and the other parts of southern Europe. , The greater part of 
the mastich of commerce comes from the island of Chio. It is impossible 
to conjecture to what plant Pliny here alludes, with the head of a thistle. 

23 This kind, Fee says, is quite unknown to the moderns. 

23 This substance is still gathered from the Cistus creticus of Linna?us, 
which is supposed to be the same as the plant leda, mentioned by Pliny. 
It is also most probably the same as the Cisthon, mentioned by Pliny in 
B. xxiv. c. 48. It is very commonly found in Spain. The substance is 
gathered from off the leaves, not by the aid of goats, but with whips fur- 
nished with several thongs, with which the shrubs are beaten. There are 
two sorts of ladanum known in commerce ; the one friable, and mixed with 
earthy substances, and known as " ladanum in tortis ;" the other black, and 


have stated that this substance is the fortuitous result of an ac- 
cidental injury inflicted upon a certain odoriferous plant, under 
the following circumstances : the goat, they say, which is in 
general an animal that is extremely mischievous to foliage, is 
particularly fond of the shrubs that are odoriferous, as if, in- 
deed, it were really sensible of the value that is set upon 
them. Hence it is that as the animal crops the sprouting 
shoots of the branches which are swollen with a liquid juice 
of remarkable sweetness, these juices drop and become min- 
gled together, and are then wiped up by the shaggy hairs of 
its unlucky beard. Being there mingled with the dust, these 
juices form knots and tufts, and are then dried by the sun ; 
and hence the circumstance is accounted for that in the lada- 
num which is imported by us we find goats' hairs. This, 
however, we are told, occurs nowhere but among the Naba- 
tsei, 24 a people of Arabia, who border upon Syria. The more 
recent writers call this substance by the name of stobolon, and 
state that in the forests of Arabia the trees are broken by the 
goats while browzing, and that the juices in consequence ad- 
here to their shaggy hair ; but the genuine ladanum, they 
assure us, comes from the island of Cyprus. I make mention of 
this in order that every kind of odoriferous plant may be taken 
some notice of, even though incidentally and not in the order 
of their respetive localities. They say also that this Cyprian 
ladanum is collected in the same manner as the other, and 
that it forms a kind of greasy substance or oesypum, 25 which 
adheres to the beards and shaggy legs of the goats ; but that 
it is produced from the flowers of the ground-ivy, which they 
have nibbled when in quest of their morning food, a time at 
which the whole island is covered with dew. After this, they 
say, when the fogs are dispersed by the sun, the dust adheres 
to their wet coats, and the ladanum is formed, which is after- 
wards taken off of them with a comb. 

There are some authors who give to the plant of Cyprus, 
from which it is made, the name of leda ; and hence it is that 

soft to the fingers, the only adventitious substances in which are a little 
sand and a few hairs. 

24 See B. vi. c. 32. 

23 For some further account of this substance, see B. xxix. c. 10. Filthy 
as it was, the oesypum, or sweat and grease of sheep, was used by the 
Roman ladies as one of their most choice cosmetics. Ovid, in his "Art of 
Love," more than once inveighs against the use of it. 


we find it also called ledanum. They say, also, that a viscous 
substance settles upon this plant, and, that, by the aid of 
strings wound around it, its leaves are rolled into balls, from 
which a kind of cake is made. Hence it is, that in Cyprus, as 
well as in Arabia, there are two kinds of ladanum ; the one 
natural, and mingled with earth, and the other artificial : the 
former is friable, while the latter is of a viscous nature. 

It is stated, also, that this substance is the produce of a 
shrub originally found in Carmania, and propagated by plants, 
by order of the Ptolemies, in the parts beyond Egypt ; while 
other authorities are found, which say that it grows on the 
incense tree, and is gathered like gum, from incisions made in 
the bark, after which it is collected in bags of goat- skin. That 
of the most approved quality, sells at the rate of forty asses 
per pound. Ladanum is adulterated with myrtle berries, and 
filth taken from the fleeces of other animals besides the goat. 
If genuine, it ought to have a wild and acrid smell, in some 
measure redolent of the desert places where it is produced : it 
is dry and parched in appearance, but becomes soft the moment 
it is touched. "When ignited, it gives a brilliant flame, and 
emits a powerful but pleasant odour ; if mixed with myrtle 
berries, its spurious quality is immediately discovered by their 
crackling in the fire. In addition to this, the genuine lada- 
num has more grits, or stony particles, adhering to it, than 


In Arabia, too, the olive-tree distils a sort of tear, with 
which the Indians make a medicament, known by the Greeks 
as enhsemon ; 26 ' it is said to be of wonderful efficacy in con- 
tracting and healing wounds and sores. These trees, 27 situate 
on the coasts there, are covered by the sea at high water, 
without the berries suffering the slightest injury, although it 
is a well-known fact, that the salt collects upon the leaves. 

26 From the Greek tvaifjiov, "styptic," or "blood-stopping." It is at 
the present day called gam " de lecce" in Italy. Fee says that it is nut 
often procured from the olive-trees of France, though it is found very com- 
monly on those of Naples and Calabria. It has no active powers, he says, 
as a medicine. 

27 Hardouin suggests that they may be the pelagic, mentioned again in 
B. xiii. c. 51. 

Chap. 40.-] STOBEUM. 135 

All these trees are peculiar to Arabia, but it has some few 
besides, in common with other countries, of which we shall 
make mention elsewhere, the kinds growing in Arabia being 
of inferior quality. The people of that country have a won- 
derful regard for the perfumes of foreign parts, and import 
them from places at a considerable distance ; so soon are men 
sated with what they have of their own, and so covetous are 
they of what belongs to others. 


Hence it is, that they import from the country of the 
Elymaei 2S the wood of a tree called bratus, 29 which is similar in 
appearance to a spreading cypress. Its branches are of a 
whitish colour, and the wood, while burning, emits a pleasant 
odour; it is highly spoken of by Claudius Csesar, in his 
History, 30 for its marvellous properties. He states that the 
Parthians sprinkle the leaves of it in their drink, that its smell 
closely resembles that of the cedar, and that the smoke of it is 
efficacious in counteracting the effects of smoke emitted by 
other wood. This tree grows in the countries that lie beyond 
the Pasitigris, 31 in the territory of the city of Sittaca, upon 
Mount Zagrus. 


The Arabians import from Carmania also the wood of a 
tree called stobrum, 32 which they employ in fumigations, by 
steeping it in palm wine, and then setting fire to it. The 
odour first ascends to the ceiling, and then descends in volumes 

2S See B. vi. c. 31. 

29 Although the savin shrub, the Juniperus Sabina of Linnaeus, bears 
this name in Greek, it is evident, as Fee says, that Pliny does not allude 
to it, but to a coniferous tree, as it is that family which" produces a resinous 
wood with a balsamic odour when ignited. JBauhin and others would 
make the tree meant to be the Thuya occidentalis of Linnaeus ; but, as Fee 
observes, that tree is in reality a native originally of Canada, while the 
Thuya orientalis is a native of Japan. He suggests, however, that the 
Thuya articulata of Mount Atlas may have possibly been the citrus of 

30 See end of B. v. 

31 All these are mentioned in B. vi. c. 31. 

32 It is not known what wood is meant under this name. Aloe, and 
some other woods, when ignited are slightly narcotic. 


to the floor ; it is very agreeable, but is apt to cause an 
oppression of the head, though unattended with pain ; it is 
used for promoting sleep in persons when ill. For these 
branches of commerce, they have opened the city of Carrse, 33 
which serves as an entrepot, and from which place they were 
formerly in the habit of proceeding to Gabba, at a distance of 
twenty days' journey, and thence to Palsestina, in Syria. But 
at a later period, as Juba informs us, they began to take the 
road, for the purposes of this traffic, to Charax 34 and the 
kingdom of the Parthians. For my own part, it would appear 
to me that they were in the habit of importing these commo- 
dities among the Persians, even before they began to convey 
them to Syria or Egypt ; at least Herodotus bears testimony to 
that effect, when he states that the Arabians paid a yearly 
tribute of one thousand talents, in frankincense, to the kings 
of Persia. 

From Syria they bring back storax, 35 which, burnt upon 
the hearth, by its powerful smell dispels that loathing of their 
own perfumes with which these people are affected. For in 
general there are no kinds of wood in use among them, except 
those which are odoriferous; indeed, the Sabsei are in the 
habit of cooking their food with incense wood, while others, 
again, employ that of the myrrh tree ; and hence, the smoke 
and smells that pervade their cities and villages are no other 
than the very same which, with us, proceed from the altars. 
For the purpose of qualifying this powerful smell, they burn 
storax in goat-skins, and so fumigate their dwellings. So true 
it is, that there is no pleasure to be found, but what the con- 
tinual enjoyment of it begets loathing. They also burn this 
substance to drive away the serpents, which are extremely 
numerous in the forests which bear the odoriferous trees. 


Arabia produces neither cinnamon nor cassia; and this is 
the country styled " Happy" Arabia! False and ungrateful 
does she prove herself in the adoption of this surname, which 
she would imply to have been received from the gods above ; 
whereas, in reality, she is indebted for it far more to the gods 

33 See B. v. c. 21. 3i See B. vi. c. 30. 

85 See c. 55 of the present Book. 

Chap. 42.] CINNAMOMUAI. 137 

below. 36 It is the luxury which is displayed by man, even in 
the paraphernalia of death, that has rendered Arabia thus 
"happy;" and which prompts him to burn with the dead 
what was originally understood to have been produced for the 
service of the gods. Those who are likely to be the best 
acquainted with the matter, assert that this country does not 
produce, in a whole year, so large a quantity of perfumes as 
was burnt by the Emperor Nero at the funeral obsequies of 
his wife Poppeea. And then let us only take into account 
the vast number of funerals that are celebrated throughout the 
whole world each year, and the heaps of odours that are 
piled up in honour of the bodies of the dead ; the vast quanti- 
ties, too, that are offered to the gods in single grains ; and yet, 
when men were in the habit of offering up to them the salted 
cake, they did not show themselves any the less propitious ; 
nay, rather, as the facts themselves prove, they were even 
more favourable to us than they are now. But it is the sea of 
Arabia that has even a still greater right to be called " happy," 
for it is this that furnishes us with pearls. At the very lowest 
computation, India, the Seres, and the Arabian Peninsula, 
withdraw from our empire one hundred millions of sesterces 
every year — so dearly do we pay for our luxury and our 
women. How large a portion, too, I should like to know, of 
all these perfumes, really comes to the gods of heaven, and the 
deities of the shades below ? 


Fabulous antiquity, and Herodotus 38 more particularly, have 
related that cinnamomum and cassia are found in the nests of 
certain birds, and principally that of the phoenix, in the dis- 
tricts where Father Liber was brought up ; and that these sub- 
stances either fall from the inaccessible rocks and trees in 
which the nests are built, in consequence of the weight of the 
pieces of flesh which the birds carry up, or else are brought 
down by the aid of arrows loaded with lead. It is said, also, 

36 Because its perfumes were held in such high esteem, for burning on 
the piles of the dead. This, of course, was doue primarily to avoid the 
offensive smell. 

37 The hark of the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum of the modern naturalists, 
the cinnamon-tree of Ceylon. 

38 B. hi. 

138 plist's natural histoet. [Book XII. 

that cassia grows around certain marshes, but is protected by 
a frightful kind of bat armed with claws, and by winged ser- 
pents as well. All these tales, however, have been evidently 
invented for the purpose of enhancing the prices of these 
commodities. Another story, too, bears them company, to the 
effect that under the rays of the noon-day sun, the entire 
peninsula exhales a certain indescribable perfume composed of 
its numerous odours ; that the breezes, as they blow from it, 
are impregnated with these odours, and, indeed, were the first 
to announce the vicinity of Arabia to the fleets of Alexander 
the Great, while still far out at sea. All this, however, is 
false ; for cinnamomum, or cinnamum, which is the same thing, 
grows in the country of the ^Ethiopians, 39 who are united by 
intermarriages with the Troglodytse. These last, after buying 
it of their neighbours, carry it over vast tracts of sea, upon 
rafts, which are neither steered by rudder, nor drawn or 
impelled by oars or sails. Nor yet are they aided by any of the 
resources of art, man alone, and his daring boldness, standing 
in place of all these ; in addition to which, they choose the 
winter season, about the time of the equinox, for their voyage, 
for then a south easterly wind is blowing ; these winds guide 
them in a straight course from gulf to gulf, and after they 
have doubled the promonotory of Arabia, the north east wind 
carries them to a port of the Gebanitae, known by the name of 
Ocilia. 40 Hence it is that they steer for this port in preference ; 
and they say that it is almost five years before the mer- 
chants are able to effect their return, while many perish on 
the voyage. In return for their wares, they bring back arti- 
cles of glass and copper, cloths, buckles, bracelets, and neck- 
laces ; hence it is that this traffic depends more particularly 
upon the capricious tastes and inclinations of the female sex. 

The cinnamon shrub 41 is only two cubits in height, at the 
most, the lowest being no more than a palm in height. It is 
about four fingers in breadth, and hardly has it risen six 
fingers from the ground, before it begins to put forth shoots and 

39 See B. vi. c. 34. 4 ° See B. vi. c. 26. 

41 As Fee observes, this description does not at all resemble that of the 
cinnamon-tree of Ceylon, as known to us. M. Bonastre is of opinion that 
the nutmeg-tree was known to the ancients under this name ; but, as Fee 
observes, the nutmeg could never have been taken for a bark, and cinnamon 
is described as such in the ancient writers. He inclines to think that their 
cinnamon was really the bark of a species of amyris. 

Chap. 42.] CINNAMOMTJM. 139 

suckers. It has then all the appearance of being dry and 
withered, and while it is green it has no odour at all. The leaf is 
like that of wild marjoram, and it thrives best in dry localities, 
being not so prolific in rainy weather ; it requires, also, to be 
kept constantly clipped. Though it grows on level ground, it 
thrives best among tangled brakes and brambles, and hence 
it is extremely difficult to be gathered. It is never gathered 
unless with the permission of the god, by whom some suppose 
Jupiter to be meant; the ^Ethiopians, however, call him 
Assabinus. 42 They offer the entrails of forty-four oxen, goats, 
and rams, when they implore his permission to do so, but after 
all, they are not allowed to work at it before sunrise or after 
sunset. A priest divides the branches with a spear, and sets 
aside one portion of them for the god ; after which, the dealer 
stores away the rest in lumps. There is another account given, 
which states that a division is made between the gatherers and 
the sun, and that it is divided into three portions, after which 
lots are twice drawn, and the share which falls to the sun is 
left there, and forthwith ignites spontaneously. 

The thinnest parts in the sticks, for about a palm in length, 
are looked upon as producing the finest cinnamon ; the part 
that comes next, though not quite so long, is the next best, 
and so on downwards. The worst of all is that which is 
nearest the roots, from the circumstance that in that part 
there is the least bark, the portion that is the most esteemed : 
hence it is that the upper part of the tree is preferred, there 
being the greatest proportion of bark there. As for the wood, 
it is held in no esteem at all, on account of the acrid taste 
which it has, like that of wild marjoram ; it is known as 
xylocinnamum. 43 The price of cinnamomum is ten denarii per 
pound. Some writers make mention of two kinds of cinna- 
mon, the white and the black : the white was the one that was 
formerly preferred, but now, on the contrary, the black is held 
in the highest estimation, and the mottled, even, is preferred to 
the white. The most certain test, however, of the goodness ot 
cinnamon is its not being rough, and the fact that the pieces 
when rubbed together do not readily crumble to powder. That 
which is soft is more particularly rejected, which is the case, 
also, when the outer bark too readily falls off. 

i2 See c. 33 of the present Book, and the Note. 
43 Or " wood of cinnamon." 

140 plot's natural HISTOItY. [Book. XII. 

The right of regulating the sale of the cinnamon belongs 
solely to the king of the Gebanitse, who opens the market for it 
by public proclamation. The price of it was formerly as much 
as athousand denarii per pound; which was afterwards increased 
to half as much again, in consequence, it is said, of the forests 
having been set on fire by the barbarians, from motives of 
resentment ; whether this took place through any injustice 
exercised by those in power, or only by accident, has not been 
hitherto exactly ascertained. Indeed, we find it stated by 
some authors, that the south winds that prevail in these parts 
are sometimes so hot as to set the forests on fire. The Em- 
peror Yespasianus Augustus was the first to dedicate in the 
temples of the Capitol and the goddess Peace chaplets of cin- 
namon inserted in embossed 44 gold. I, myself, once saw in the 
temple of the Palatium, which his wife Augusta 45 dedicated to 
her husband the late emperor Augustus, a root of cinnamon 
of great weight, placed in a patera of gold : from it drops used 
to distil every year, which congealed in hard grains. It re- 
mained there until the temple was accidentally destroyed by fire. 

chap. 43. — CASSIA. 

Cassia 46 is a shrub also, which grows not far from the plains 
where cinnamon is produced, but in the mountainous locali- 
ties ; the branches of it are, however, considerably thicker- than 
those of cinnamon. It is covered with a thin skin rather than 
a bark, and, contrary to what is the case with cinnamon, it 
is looked upon as the most valuable when the bark falls off 
and crumbles into small pieces. The shrub is three cubits in 
height, and the colours which it assumes are threefold : when 
it first shoots from the ground, for the length of a foot, it is 
white; after it has attained that height, it is red for half a 
foot, and beyond that it is black. This last is the part that 
is held in the highest esteem, and next to it the portion that 
comes next, the white part being the least valued of all. They 
cut the ends of the branches to the length of two fingers, and 

44 " Interrasili." Gold partly embossed, and partly left plain, was thus 

45 The Empress Livia. 

46 There has been considerable doubt what plant it was that produced 
the cassia of the ancients. Fee, after diligently enquiring into the subject, 
inclines to think that it was the Laurus cassia of Linnaeus, the same tree 
tbat produces the cassia of the present day. 

Chap. 43.] 

CASSIA. 141 

then sew them in the fresh skins of cattle that have been 
killed expressly for the purpose ; the object being that the 
skins may putrefy, and the maggots generated thereby may 
eat away the woody parts, and so excavate 47 the bark; which 
is so intensely bitter, that it is quite safe from their attacks. 
That which is the freshest is the most highly esteemed ; it 
has a very delicate smell, and is so extremely hot to the taste, 
that it may be said to burn the tongue, rather than gradually 
warm the mouth. It is of a purple colour, and though of 
considerable volume, weighs but very little in comparison ; the 
outer coat forms into short tubes which are by no means easily 
broken : this choice kind of cassia, the barbarians call by the 
name of lada. There is another sort, again, which is called 
balsamodes, 43 because it has a smell like that of balsam, but it 
is bitter ; for which reason it is more employed for medicinal 
purposes, just as the black cassia is used for unguents. There 
is no substance known that is subject to greater variations in 
price : the best qualities sell at fifty denarii per pound, others, 
again, at five. 

(20.) To these varieties the dealers have added another, 
which they call daphnoides, 49 and give it the surname of isocin- 
namon; 60 the price at which it sells is three hundred 
denarii per pound. It is adulterated with storax, and, in 
consequence of the resemblance of the bark, with very small 
sprigs of laurel. Cassia is also planted in our 51 part of the 
world, and, indeed, at the extreme verge of the Empire, on the 
banks of the river Ehenus, where it flourishes when planted 
in the vicinity of hives of bees. It has not, however, that 
scorched colour which is produced by the excessive heat of the 
sun ; nor has it, for the same reason, a similar smell to that 
which comes from the south. 


From the confines of the country which produces cinnamon 

47 There is little doubt that all this is fabulous. 

48 Or, "smelling like balsam." 

49 " Looking like laurel." 

50 " Equal to cinnamon." Fee thinks that it is a variety of the Laurus 
cassia. . * 

31 He probably alludes to the Daphne Cnidium of Linnaeus, which, as 
Fee remarks, is altogether different from the Laurus cassia, or genuine 

142 pltnt's natueal histoey. [Book XII. 

and cassia, cancamum 52 and tarum 53 are imported ; but these 
substances are brought by way of the jSTabatsean Troglodytse, 
a colony of the Nabatsei. 


Thither, too, are carried serichatum 54 and gabalium, aroma, 
tics which the Arabians rear for their own consumption, and 
which are only known by name in our part of the world, 
though they grow in the same country as cinnamon and cassia. 
Still, however, serichatum does reach us occasionally, and is 
employed by some persons in the manufacture of unguents. It 
is purchased at the rate of six denarii per pound. 


In the country of the Troglodytae, the Thebais, and the parts 
of Arabia which separate Judaea from Egypt, myrobalanum 55 is 
commonly found ; it is provided by Nature for unguents, as 
from its very name would appear. From its name, also, it is 
evident that it is the nut of a tree, with a leaf similar to that 
of the heliotropium, which we shall have to mention when 
speaking of the herbs. The fruit of this tree is about the size 
of a filbert. The kind that grows in Arabia is known as 
Syriaca, and is white, while, on the other hand, that which 
grows in the Thebais is black : the former is preferred for the 
quality of the oil extracted from it, though that which is pro- 

52 A gum resin of some unknown species, but not improbably, Fee 
thinks, the produce of some of the Amyrides. Sprengel thinks that it was 
produced from the Gardenia gummifera. 

53 Aloe-wood. 

54 According to Poinsinet, these Arabic words derive their origin from 
the Slavonic; the first signifying a "cordial drug," or " alexipharmic," and 
the other a drug "which divides itself into tablets." It is impossible to 
divine what drugs are meant by these names. 

55 Signifying the "unguent acorn," or "nut." There is little doubt 
that the behen or ben nut of the Arabians is meant, of Avhich there are 
several sorts. It is used by the Hindoos for calico printing and pharmacy, 
and was formerly employed in Europe in the arts, and for medical pur- 
poses. It is no longer used as a perfume. The " oil of ben " used in 
commerce is extracted from the fruit of the Moringa oleifera of naturalists. 
It is inodorous ; for which reason, Fee is of opinion that the name signifies 
"the oily nut," and quotes Dioscorides, who says, B. iv., that an oil is ex- 
tracted from this balanus, which is used as an ingredient in unguents, in 
place of other oils. Fee also says that at the present day it is used by per- 
fumers, to fix or arrest the evanescent odours of such flowers as the jasmine 
and the lily. 

Chap. 47.] 


duced in the Thebais yields it in larger quantities. Among 
these various kinds, that which is sent from the country of the 
Troglodyte is the worst of all. There are some persons who 
prefer that of Ethiopia 56 to all of these, the nut of which is 
black, and not oleaginous ; it has only a very small kernel, but 
the liquid which is extracted from it is more odoriferous than 
that of the other kinds ; it grows, too, in a champaign, open 
country. It is said that the Egyptian nut is even more olea- 
ginous, being of a reddish colour with a thicker shell, and 
that the plant, although it grows in wet, marshy spots, is 
shorter and drier than the other kinds. The Arabian nut, 
again, is said to be of a green colour and of smaller size, but 
harder and more compact, from the circumstance that it grows 
in mountainous districts. The best of all, however, is that of 
Petra, which comes from a city mentioned 56 * on a previous 
occasion ; it has a black shell, but the kernel is white. The 
perfumers, however, only extract the juices from the shells ; 
but medical men pound the kernels, pouring warm water on 
them, little by little, as they do it. 


The fruit of the palm in Egypt, which is known by the 
name of adipsos, 57 is put to a similar use in unguents, and is 
held next in esteem after the myrobalanum. It is of a green 
colour, has exactly the smell of a quince, and has no stone or 
nut within. It is gathered a little before it begins to ripen. 
That which is left ungathered is known as phoenicobalanus ; 58 
it turns black, and has a tendency to inebriate the person who 
eats of it. The price of myrobalanum is two denarii per pound. 
The shop-keepers give this name also to the dregs of the 
unguent that is made with it. 

56 This Ethiopian variety is quite unknown, and is, as Fee remarks, 
most probably of a different species from the genuine myrobalanus. 

56* See B. vi. c. 32. 

57 " Curing thirst." Dioscorides, B. i. c. 148, says that it was so called 
from being full of juice, which quenched thirst like water. 

m " Palm-nut." Fee thinks it not improbable that one of the date- 
palms is meant, if we may judge from the name. He suggests that possi- 
bly the Elais or avoira of 'Guinea, the Elais Gumeeiisis, which is found as 
far as Upper Eoypt, and which produces a fine oil known as palm-oil, is 
meant, or possiblv the Douma Thebaica, a palm-tree frequently met with 
in Egypt. On fermentation, a vinous drink is extracted from the last, 
which 'is capable of producing intoxication. 

144 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XII. 



Scented calamus also, which grows in Arabia, is common to 
both India and Syria, that which grows in the last country 
being superior to all the rest. At a distance of one hundred 
and fifty stadia from the Mediterranean, between Mount 
Libanus and another mountain of no note (and not, as some 
have supposed, Antilibanus), there is a valley of moderate 
size, situate in the vicinity of a lake, the marshy swamps of 
which are dried up every summer. At a distance of thirty 
stadia from this lake grow the sweet-scented calamus and 
rush. We shall here make some further mention of this rush 
as well, although we have set apart another Book for plants 
of that description, seeing that it is our object here to de- 
scribe all the different materials used for unguents. These 
plants differ in appearance in no respect from others of their 
kind ; but the calamus, which has the more agreeable smell of 
the two, attracts by its odour at a considerable distance, and 
is softer to the touch than the other. The best is the kind 
which is not so brittle, but breaks into long flakes, and not 
short, like a radish. In the hollow stalk there is a substance 
like a cobweb, which is generally known by the name of the 
" flower:" those plants which contain the most of it are 
esteemed the best. The other tests of its goodness are its 
being of a black colour— those which are white not being 
esteemed ; besides which, to be of the very best quality it 
should be short, thick, and pliant when broken. The price of 
the scented calamus is eleven, and of the rush fifteen denarii 
per pound. It is said that the sweet-scented rush is to be met 
with also in Campania. 


"We have now departed from the lands which look towards 
59 Fee remarks, that this must not be confounded with the Calamus 
aromaticus of the moderns, of which Pliny speaks in B. xxv. c. 100, with 
sufficient accuracy to enable us to identify it with the Acorus calamus of 
Linnaeus. It is not ascertained by naturalists what plant is meant by 
Pliny in the present instance, though Fee is of opinion that a gramineous 
plant of the genus Andropogon is meant. M. Guibourt has suggested that 
the Indian Gentiana chirayta is the plant. From what Pliny says in B. 
xiii. c. 21, it appears that this calamus grew in Syria, which is also the 
native country of the Andropogon schcenanthus. 

Chap. 50.] SPHAGNOS. 145 

the ocean to enter upon those which have an aspect towards 
our seas. (23.) Africa, which lies below ^Ethiopia, distils 
a tear-like gum in its sands, called hammoniacum, 60 the name of 
which has passed to the oracle of Hammon, situate near the tree 
which produces it. This substance, which is also called meto- 
pion, 61 bears a strong resemblance to a resin or a gum. There 
are two kinds of ammoniacum ; that to which the name is 
given of thrauston, and which bears a resemblance to male 
frankincense, being the kind that is the most esteemed, and 
that which is known as phyrama, being of an unctuous and 
resinous nature. This substance is adulterated by means of 
sand, which has all the appearance of having adhered to it 
during its growth: hence it is greatly preferred when the 
pieces are extremely small, and in the purest state possible. 
The price of hammoniacum of the best quality is forty asses 
per pound. 


Below these countries, and in the province of Cyrenaica, the 
perfume called sphagnos 62 is found in the highest state of per- 
fection : there are some who call it by the name of bryon. 
The sphagnos of Cyprus holds the second rank, and that of 
Phoenicia the third. It is said that this plant is produced in 
Egypt also, and in Gaul as well, and I see no reason to doubt 
that such is the fact, for this name is given to certain white 

60 See B. xxiv. c. 14. The gum resin ammoniacum is still imported 
into Europe from Africa and the East, in the form of drops or cakes. 
It is a mildly stimulating expectorant, and is said to be the produce of the 
Dorenia ammoniacum. There are still two sox-ts in commerce : the first 
in large masses of a yellow, dirty colour, mingled with heterogeneous sub- 
stances, and of a plastic consistency. This is the phyrama of Pliny, or 
mixed ammoniac. The other is in tears, of irregular form and a whitish 
colour, brittle and vitreous when broken. This is the thrauston, or 
"friable" ammoniac of Pliny. Jackson says, that the plant which pro- 
duces it is common in Morocco, and is called feskouk, resembling a large 
stalk of fennel The ammoniac of Morocco is not, however, imported into 
this country, being too much impregnated with sand, in consequence of 
not being gathered till it falls to the ground. 

61 Solinus tells us, that the tree itself is called Metops. 

62 It is clear that, under this name, certain lichens of a hairy or fila- 
mentary nature are meant. They adhere, Dioscorides tells us, to the 
cedar, the white poplar, and the oak. The white ones belong, probably, 
to the Usnea fiorida of Linnaeus, the red ones to the Usnea barbata, and 
the black ones to the Alectoria jubata, an almost inodorous lichen. 


146 pliny's natueal histoet. [Book XII. 

shaggy tufts upon trees, such as we often see upon the quercus : 
those, however, of which we are speaking, emit a most ex- 
quisite odour. The most esteemed of all are the whitest, and 
those situate at the greatest height upon the tree. Those of 
second quality are red, while those which are hlack are not of 
the slightest value. The sphagnos, too, that is produced on 
islands and among rocks, 63 is held in no esteem, as well as all 
those varieties which have the odour of the palm-tree, and not 
that which is so peculiarly their own. 


The Cyprus 64 is a tree of Egypt, with the leaves of the zizi- 
phus, 65 and seeds like coriander, 66 white and odoriferous. 
These seeds are boiled in olive oil, and then subjected to 
pressure ; the product is known to us as cypros. The price of 
it is five denarii per pound. The best is that produced on the 
banks of the Nile, near Canopus, that of second quality coming 
from Ascalon in Judaea, and the third in estimation for the 
sweetness of its odour, from the island of Cyprus. Some people 
will have it that this is the same as the tree which in Italy we 
call ligustrum. 67 


In the same country, 68 too, grows aspalathos, 69 a white, 
thorny shrub, the size of a moderate tree, and with flowers 
like the rose, the root of which is in great request for un- 
guents. It is said that every shrub over which the rainbow 
is extended is possessed of the sweet odour that belongs to 
the aspalathos, but that if the aspalathos is one of them, its 

63 Probably tbe Roccella tinctoria of Linnaeus, a lichen most commonly- 
found upon rocks. 

64 The henue, the Lawsonia inermis of the modern naturalists, a shrub 
found in Egypt, Syria, and Barbary. From this tree the henna is made 
with which the women of the East stain the skin of their hands and feet. 

65 The jujube-tree. See B. xv. c. 14. 

66 See B. xx. c. 82. 

67 Or privet. 

^ But in B. xxiv. c. 68, he says that this plant grows in the island of 

69 According to Fee, this is the same as the Lignum Rhodianum, or 
wood of Rhodes, of commerce, sometimes also called, but incorrectly, wood 
of roses. It is, probably, the same as the Convolvulus scoparius of Lin- 

Chap. 54.] BALSAIITTM. 147 

scent is something quite indescribable. Some persons call this 
plant erysisceptruni, 70 and others, again, sceptrum. The proof 
of its genuineness is its red or fiery colour ; it is also compact 
to the touch, and has the smell of castoreum : 71 it is sold at 
the rate of five denarii per pound. 

CHAP. 53. — MASON. 

In Egypt, too, grows marum, 72 though of inferior quality 
to that of Lydia, which last has larger leaves, covered with 
spots. Those of the other are shorter and smaller, and give 
out a powerful scent. 

ceap. 54. (25.) — balsamum; opobalsamttm ; and xylobal-' 


But to all other odours that of balsamum 73 is considered' 
preferable, a plant that has been only bestowed by Nature 
upon the land of Judaea. In former times it was cultivated in 
two gardens only, both of which belonged to the kings of that 
country : one of them was no more than twenty jugera in 
extent, and the other somewhat smaller. The emperors Ves- 
pasianus and Titus had this shrub exhibited at Borne ; indeed, 
it is worthy of signal remark, that since the time of Pompeius 
Magnus, we have been in the habit of carrying trees even in 
our triumphal processions. At the present day this tree pays 
us homage and tribute along with its native land, but it has 
been found to be of altogether a different nature to that which 

70 Or "red sceptre," probably so called from the flowers clustering along 
the whole length of the branches. 

71 A liquid matter extracted from the beaver. 

72 Generally regarded as identical with the Teucrium Marum of Linnaeus, 
a sweet-smelling shrub found in the south of Europe and the East, by us 
commonly known as "herb mastich," somewhat similar to marjoram. 
Fee says that the marum of Egypt is a kind of sage, the Salvia iEthiopis 
of Linnaeus. 

73 Balsam (or balm of Mecca, as it is sometimes called) is the produce 
of two trees, probably varieties of one another, of the terebinth family, 
belonging to the genus Amyris. So far from being a native solely of 
Judaea, liruce assures us that its original country was that which produces 
myrrh, in the vicinity of Babelmandel, and that the inhabitants use the 
wood solely for fuel. In Judaea it appears to have been cultivated solely 
in gardens ; and it was this tree which produced the famous balm of Gilead 
of Scripture. The balsam 'trees known to us do not at all correspond with 
Pliny's description, as they do not resemble either the vine or myrtle, nor 
are their leaves at all like those of rue. 

148 pliny's natubal history. [BookXIL 

our own as well as foreign writers had attributed to it : for, in 
fact, it bears a much stronger resemblance to the vine than to 
the myrtle. This recent acquisition by conquest has learned, 
like the vine, to be reproduced by mallet 74 -shoots^ and it 
covers declivities just like the vine, which supports its own 
weight without the aid of stays. When it puts forth branches 
it is pruned in a similar manner, and it thrives by being well 
raked at the roots, growing with remarkable rapidity, and 
bearing fruit at the end of three years. The leaf bears a very 
considerable resemblance to that of rue, and it is an ever- 
green. The Jews vented their rage upon this shrub just as 
they were in the habit of doing against their own lives and 
persons, while, on the other hand, the Komans protected it : in- 
deed, combats have taken place before now in defence of a shrub. 
At the present day the reproduction of it has become a duty 
of the fiscal authorities, and the plants were never known to 
be more numerous or of larger growth ; they never exceed the 
height, however, of a couple of cubits. 

There are three different kinds of balsamum. The first has 
a thin and hair-like foliage, and is known by the name of 
eutheriston. 7 ' The second is of a rugged appearance, bending 
downwards, full of branches, and more odoriferous than the 
first; the name of this is trachy. The third kind is the 
eumeces, so called, because it is taller than the others ; it has 
a smooth, even, bark. It is the second in quality, the euthe- 
riston being inferior to the trachy. The seed of this plant 
has a flavour strongly resembling that of wine ; it is of a 
reddish colour, and not without a certain amount of unctuous- 
ness ; the grains of inferior quality are lighter in weight and 
of a greener hue : the branches of the shrub are thicker than 
those of the myrtle. Incisions are made in it either with 
glass, or else a sharp stone, or knives made of bone : it being 
highly injurious to touch the vital parts with iron, for in such 
case it will immediately wither away and die. On the other 
hand, it will allow of all the superfluous branches being pruned 
away with an instrument of iron even. The hand of the 

« " Malleolis." So called when the new shoot of the tree springing from 
a branch of the former year, is cut off for the sake of planting, with a hit 
of the old wood on each side of it, in the form of a mallet. 

« h Easily cut." This and the other kinds, the names of which mean 
"rough barked," and "good length," are probably only varieties of the 
same tree, in different states. 

Chap. 51.] BA.LSAMTJM. 149 

person who makes the incision is generally balanced by an 
artificial guide, in order that he may not accidentally inflict a 
wound in the wood beyond the bark. 

A juice distils from the wound, which is known to us 
as opobalsamum ; it is of extraordinary sweetness, 70 but only 
exudes in tiny drops, which are then collected in wool, and 
deposited in small horns. When taken from out of these, the 
substance is placed in new earthen vessels ; it bears a strong 
resemblance to a thick oil, and is of a white colour when fresh. 
It soon, however, turns red, and as it hardens loses its trans- 
parency. When Alexander the Great waged war in those 
parts, it was looked upon as a fair summer day's work to fill a 
single concha 77 with this liquid ; the entire produce of the 
larger garden being six congii, and of the smaller one a single 
congius; the price, too, at which it was sold was double its 
weight in silver. At the present day the produce of a single 
tree, even, is larger ; the incisions are made three times every 
summer, after which the tree is pruned. 

The cuttings, too, form an article of merchandize : the fifth 
year after the conquest of Judaea, these cuttings, with the 
suckers, were sold for the price of eight hundred thousand 
sesterces. These cuttings are called xylobalsamum, 78 and are 
boiled down for mixing with unguents, and in the manufac- 
tories have been substituted for the juices of the shrub. The 
bark is also in great request for medicinal purposes, but it is 
the tears that are so particularly valuable ; the seed holding 

76 This is said, probably, in allusion to the smell, and not the taste. 
Fee remarks, that Pliny speaks with a considerable degree of exaggeration, 
as its odour is very inferior to that of several balsams which contain ben- 
zoic acid. The balsam obtained by incision, as mentioned by Pliny, is not 
brought to Europe, but only that obtained by the process of decoction ; 
which is known as "balm of Mecca," or of Judsea. It is. difficult to believe, 
according to Fee, that it was adulterated with the substances here men- 
tioned by Pliny ; oil of roses having been always a very precious com- 
modity, wax being likely to change its nature entirely, and gums not being 
of a nature to combine with it. Its asserted effects upon milk he states to 
be entirely fabulous ; the statement is derived from Dioscorides. 

77 The concha, or u shell," was a Greek and Roman liquid measure, of 
which there were two sizes. The smaller was half a cyathns, .0412 of an 
English pint ; the larger was about three times the size of the former, and 
was known also as the oxybaphum. 

-8 Q r « W ood of balsam." It is still known in European commerce by 
its ancient name. The fruit is called Carpobalsamum. 

150 plint's natukal history. [Book XII. 

the second rank in estimation, the bark the third, and the 
wood being the least esteemed of all. Of the wood, that kind 
which resembles boxwood is considered the best : it has also 
the strongest smell. The best seed is that which is the largest 
in size and the heaviest in weight ; it has a biting or rather 
burning taste in the mouth. Balsamum is adulterated with 
hypericin 78 ' from Petra, but the fraud is easily detected, from 
the fact that the grains of the latter are larger, comparatively 
empty, and longer than those of balsamum ; they are destitute 
also of any pungency of smell, and have a flavour like that 

of pepper. . 

As to the tears of balsamum, the test of their goodness is 
their being unctuous to the touch, small, of a somewhat reddish 
colour, and odoriferous when subjected to friction. That of 
second-rate quality is white ; the green and coarse is inferior, 
and the black is the worst of all ; for, like olive-oil, it is apt 
to turn rancid when old. Of all the incisions, the produce is 
considered the best of those from which the liquid has flowed 
before the formation of the seed. In addition to what has 
been already stated, it is often adulterated with the juice of 
the seed, and it is with considerable difficulty that the fraud is 
detected by a slight bitterness in the taste, which ought to be 
delicate and without the slightest mixture of acidity, the only 
pungency being that of the smell. It is adulterated also with 
oil of roses, of Cyprus, of mastich, of balanus, of turpentine, 
and of myrtle, as also with resin, galbanum, and Cyprian wax, 
just as occasion may serve. But the very worst adulteration 
of all, is that which is effected with gum, a substance which 
is dry when emptied into the hand, and falls to the bottom 
when placed in water ; both of which are characteristics of the 
genuine commodity. Balsamum, in a genuine state, should be 
quite hard, but when it is mixed with gum a brittle pellicle 
forms upon it. The fraud can also be detected by the taste, 
aud when placed upon hot coals it may easily be seen if there 
has been any adulteration with wax and resin ; the flame too, m 
this case, burns with a blacker smoke than when the balsamum 
is pure "When mixed with honey its qualities are imme- 
diately changed, for it will attract flies even in the hand. In 
addition to these various tests, a drop of pure balsamum, if 
placed in luke-warm water will settle to the bottom of the 
78* See 13. xxvi. cc. 53, 54. 

Chap 55.] 

STOEAI. 151 

vessel, whereas, if it is adulterated, it will float upon the sur- 
face like oil, and if it has been drugged with _ metopion or 
hammoniacum, a white circle will form around it. But the 
best test of all is, that it will cause milk to curdle, and leave 
no stain upon cloth. In no commodity are there practised 
more palpable frauds than in this, for a sextarius of balsamum 
which is sold by the fiscal authorities at three hundred denarii, 
is sold again for a thousand, so vast is the profit to be derived 
from increasing this liquid by sophistication. The price of 
xylobalsamum is six denarii per pound. 

CHAP. 55. — STOBAX. 

That part of Syria joining up to Judaea, and lying above 
Phoenicia, produces storax, which is found in the vicinity of 
Gabala and Marathus, 79 as also of Casius, a mountain of Se- 
leucia. The tree 80 bears the same name, and has a strong 
resemblance to, the quince. The tear has a harsh taste, with a 
pleasant smell ; in the interior it has all the appearance of a reed, 
and is filled with a liquid juice. About the rising of the Dog- 
star, certain small winged worms hover about this substance 
and eat it away, for which reason it is often found in a rotten 
state, with worm-holes full of dust. The storax next in esti- 
mation after that already mentioned, comes from Pisidia, 
Sidon, Cyprus, and Cilicia ; that of Crete being considered the 
very worst of all. That which comes from Mount Amanus, 
in Syria, is highly esteemed for medicinal purposes, and even 
more so by the perfumers. From whatever country it comes, 
that which is of a red colour is preferred, and it should be 
both unctuous as well as viscous to the touch ; the worst kind 
is that which crumbles like bran, and is covered all over with 
a whitish mould. This substance is adulterated with the resin 
of cedar or with gum, and sometimes with honey or bitter al- 

79 These localities are mentioned in B. v. 

fe0 The Storax officinalis of Linnaeus, a tree found in the south of 
Europe and the Levant. The variety found in France, and known as the 
Aliboufier, produces no storax, or at least a very small proportion. The 
storax of commerce appears in three states — grain storax, with which Plmy 
does not appear to have been acquainted ; amygdalite, which is perhaps 
the sort which he speaks of as adulterated with bitter almonds; and lump 
storax, of reddish brown colour, which is frequently mixed with wood dust, 
or worm dust, as mentioned by Pliny, and is but little esteemed. The tree 
is also called Liquidanibar styraciflua. 

152 pliny's natural history. [Book XII. 

monds ; all which sophistications may, however, be detected by 
the taste. The price of storax of the best quality is seventeen 
denarii per pound. It conies also from Pamphylia, but this 
last is more arid, and not so full of juice. 


Syria produces galbanum too, which grows upon the same 
mountain of Amanus : it exudes from a kind of giant-fennel 81 
of the same name as the resin, though sometimes it is known 
as stagonitis. The kind that is the most esteemed is cartila- 
ginous, clear like hammoniacum, and free from all ligneous 
substances. Still, however, it is sometimes adulterated with 
beans, or with sacopenium. 82 If ignited in a pure state, it 
has the property of driving away serpents 83 by its smoke. It 
is sold at five denarii per pound, and is only employed for 
medicinal purposes. 

CHAP. 57. (26.) PANAX. 

Syria, too, furnishes panax, 84 an ingredient used in unguents. 
This plant grows also at Psophis in Arcadia, about the sources 
of the Erymanthus, in Africa also, and in Macedonia. This is 
a peculiar kind of giant-fennel, which stands live cubits in 
height : it first throws out four leaves, and then six, which lie 
close to the ground, round, and of very considerable size ; those, 
however, which grow towards the top resemble the leaves of 
the olive. It bears its seed in certain tufts, which hang down, 
just as in the fennel. The juice is obtained by incisions 

81 A shrub of the family of Ombelliferee, belonging to the genus bubon. 
It is a native of Asia Minor and Syria. 

82 See B. xix. c. 52, and B. xx. c. 75. 

83 This was a common notion with the Romans. Virgil, Georg. B. iii. 
1. 415, says : — 

"Galbaneoque agitare graves nidore chelydros.'' 
Though considered to produce a pleasant perfume by the ancients, it is no 
longer held in estimation for that quality, and is only employed in some 
slight degree for medical purposes. 

84 The produce of the Pastinaca opopanax of Linnaeus, or the Panax 
Copticum of Bauhin, an umbelliferous plant which abounds in the East, 
and is not uncommon in the south of France. The gum called Opopanax 
was formerly used, and its supposed virtues are indicated by its name, 
which signifies " the juice which is the universal remedy." 

Chap. 60.] OMPHACIUM. 3 53 

made in the stalk at harvest-time, and in the root in autumn. 
When in a coagulated state, it is esteemed according to its 
whiteness. The next in value is that of a pallid colour, while 
the black is held in no esteem. The price of that of the best 
quality is two denarii per pound. 


The difference between this kind of giant- fennel and that 
known as spondylium, 86 consists only in the leaf, which is 
smaller, and divided like that of the plane-tree. It grows in 
shady places only. The seed bears the same name as the plant, 
and has a strong resemblance to that of hart- wort : it is only 
employed in medicine. 


Syria produces the malobathrum 86 also, a tree which bears a 
folded leaf, with just the colour of a leaf when dried. From 
this plant an oil is extracted for unguents. Egypt produces it 
in still greater abundance ; but that which is the most esteemed 
of all comes from India, where it is said to grow in the marshes 
like the lentil. It has a more powerful odour than saffron, 
and has a black, rough appearance, with a sort of brackish 
taste. The white is the least approved of all, and it very soon 
turns musty when old. In taste it ought to be similar to 
nard, when placed under the tongue. "When made hike-warm 
in wine, the odour which it emits is superior to any other. 
The prices at which this drug ranges are something quite 
marvellous, being from one denarius to four hundred per pound ; 
as for the leaf^ it generally sells at sixty denarii per pound. 

chap. 60. (27.) — OMPHACIUM. 

Omphacium 87 is also a kind of oil, which is obtained from 

85 The umbelliferous plant known as the Heracleum spondylium of Lin- 
naeus. It is commonly found in France, where it is called Berce-branc- 
ursine. It received its name from the resemblance of its smell to that of 
the sphondyle, a fetid kind of wood-beetle. 

86 Some suppose this tree to be the Lauras cassia of Linnaeus, or wild 
cinnamon ; others take it for the betel, the Piper betel of Linnaeus. Clu- 
sius thinks that the name -is derived from the Indian Tamalpatra, the name 
given from time immemorial to the leaf of a tree known by the Arabs as 
the Cadegi-indi, possibly the same as the Katou-carua of the Malabars. 

87 From the Greek bn<pdiciov, being made of unripe grapes. As Fee 


two trees, the olive and the vine, by two different methods. 
It is produced from the former by pressing the olive while it 
is still in the white state. That is of an inferior quality which 
is made from the druppa — such being the name that is given 
to the olive before it is ripe and fit for food, but already 
beginning to change its colour. The difference between them 
is, that the latter kind is green, the former white. The om- 
phacium that is made from the vine is extracted from either 
the psythian 88 or the Aminean grape, when the grapes are 
about the size of a chick-pea, just before the rising of the Dog- 
star. The grape is gathered when the first bloom is appearing 
upon it, and the verjuice is extracted, after which the residue 89 
is left to dry in the sun, due precautions being taken against 
the dews of the night. The verjuice, after being collected, is 
put into earthen vessels, and then, after that, stored in jars 
of Cyprian copper. 90 The best kind is that which is of a 
reddish colour, acrid, and dry to the taste. The price at 
which it sells is six denarii per pound. Omphacium is also 
made another way — the unripe grape is pounded in a mortar, 
after which it is dried in the sun, and then divided into 


Bryon 91 also bears an affinity to these substances, being the 
clusters of berries produced by the white poplar. The best 
kinds grow in the vicinity of Cnidos, or in Caria, in spots that 
are destitute of water, or else in dry and rugged localities. A 

remarks, that made from the olive is correctly described as a kind of oil, 
but that made from the grape must have been a rob, or pure verjuice. 
These two liquids must have had totally different qualities, and resembled 
each other in nothing but the name. That extracted from the olive is 
mentioned again in B. xxiii. c. 4, in reference to its medicinal properties. 

88 These grapes are described in B. xiv. c. 4 and c. 11. 

* 9 " Eeliquum corpus." It is not clear what is the meaning of this. 
Tbe passage is either in a corrupt state, or defective. 

90 A singular metal, one would think, for keeping verjuice in. 

91 From the Greek /3puov, " moss." He speaks again of these .grapes 
of the white poplar in B. xxiv. c. 34 ; also in c. 51 of the present Book. 
Hardouin thinks that he is speaking of moss. Fee is of opinion, that the 
blossoms or buds of the tree are meant, which have a fragrant smell. This 
is the more probable, as we find Pliny here speaking of the oenanthe, or vine- 
flower, by which Fee supposes that he means the blossom of the Yitis 
vinifera of Linnaeus, which exhales a delightful perfume. 

Chap. 63.] 


bryon of second-rate quality is produced from the cedar of 
Lycia. 92 (Enanthe, too, bears an affinity to these substances, 
being the clusters of the wild vine : it is gathered when it is 
in flower, or, in ether words, when it has the finest smell : 
after which it is dried in the shade upon a linen sheet spread 
beneath it, and then stored away in casks. The best sort is 
that which comes from Parapotamia ; " the next best kinds are 
those made at Antiochia and Laodicea in Syria ; and that of 
third-rate quality, comes from the mountainous parts of Media ; 
this last, however, is preferable for medicinal purposes. # Some 
persons give the preference over all to that grown in the 
island of Cyprus. As to that which comes from Africa, it 
is solely used for medicinal purposes, being known by the 
name of massaris. 94 Whatever country it may happen to be, 
the white wild vine produces an cenanthe of superior quality 
to the black. 


There is another tree 95 also, that contributes to the manu- 
facture of unguents, by some persons known under the name 
of elate, but which we call abies ; others again call it a palm, 
and others give it the name of spathe. That of Hammonium 
is the most esteemed, and that of Egypt next, after which 
comes the Syrian tree. It is only odoriferous, however, in 
places that are destitute of water. The tears of it are of an 
unctuous nature, and are employed as an ingredient in un- 
guents, to modify the harshness of the oil. 


In Syria, too, is produced that kind of cinnamon which is also 
known as comacum. 96 This is a juice which is extracted from 

92 The bud, probably, of the Juniperus Lycia. 

»3 See B. vi. c. 31. . A a -a 

94 Said to have been a surname given by some nations to the god Bac- 
chus. .. , 

95 It is generally supposed by the commentators, that Pliny mates a 
mistake here, and that the elate or spathe was not a tree, but the envelope 
or capsule, containing thjB flowers and fruit of a tree, which is supposed by 
some to have been really the Phoenix dactylifera, or date-palm, lnere 
can be little doubt that he is mistaken in his mention of the abies or fcr- 
tree here. See B. xxiii. c. 53. 

9 6 Bauhin thinks that this juice or oil was extracted from the nutmeg, 

156 plint's natural history. [Book XII. 

a nut, and very different from the extract of the real cinna- 
niomum, though it somewhat resembles it in its agreeable smell. 
The price at which it sells is forty asses per pound. 

Summaey. — Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 
nine hundred and seventy-four. 

Eoman authors quoted.— M. Yarro, 1 Mucianus, 2 Virgil, 8 
Fabianus, 4 Sebosus, 5 Pomponius Mela, 6 Flavius, 7 Procilius, 8 
Hyginus, 9 Trogus, 10 Claudius Csesar, 11 Cornelius Nepos, 12 Sex- 
tus Niger 13 who wrote a Greek treatise on Medicine, Cassius 
Hemina, 14 L. Piso, 15 Tuditanus, 18 Antias. 17 

Foeeign authoes quoted. — Theophrastus, 18 Herodotus, 19 Cal- 

the Myristica moschata of Thunberg, and Bonastre is of the same opinion. 
But, as Fee observes, the nutmeg is a native of India, and Pliny speaks of 
the Comacum as coming from Syria. Some authors, he adds, who are of 
this opinion, think also that the other cinnamomum mentioned by Pliny 
was no other than the nutmeg, which they take to be the same as the 
chrysobalanos, or "golden nut," of Galen. 

1 See end of B. ii. 2 See end of B. ii. 

3 See end of B. vii. 

4 Fabianus Papirius : see end of B. ii. 

5 See end of B. ii. 6 See end of B. iii. 

7 The son of a freedman ; some further particulars are given of him by 
Pliny in B. xxxiii. c. 1. By his talents and eloquence, he attained con- 
siderable distinction at Rome. He was made a senator by Appius Claudius, 
and was curule aedile b.c. 303. He published a collection of legal rules, 
entitled the " Jus Flavianum." 

8 See end of B. viii. 9 See end of B. iii. 
10 See end of B. vii. n See end of B. v. 

12 See end of B. ii. 

13 Probably the same as the Niger mentioned by Dioscorides as a writer 
on Materia Medica. He is also mentioned by Epiphanius and Galen ; but 
Dioscorides charges him with numerous blunders in his accounts of vege- 
table productions. 

14 A compiler of Roman history, who wrote at the beginning of the 
second century before Christ. He wrote Annals of Rome from the earliest 
to his own times : only a few fragments of his work have survived. 

15 See end of B. ii. 

16 C. Sempronius Tuditanus, consul of Rome, b.c 129. He wrote a 
book of historical Commentaries. He was maternal grandfather of the 
orator Hortensius. 

17 See end of B. ii. 18 See end of B. iii. 
" See end of B. ii. 


listhenes, 20 Isigonus, 21 Clitarchns, 22 Anaximenes, 23 Duris, 24 
Nearchus, 25 Onesicritus, 26 Polycritus, 27 Olympiodorus, 36 Diog- 
netus, 29 Nicobulus, 30 Anticlides, 31 Chares 32 of Mitylene, Men- 
sechmus, 33 Dorotheus 34 of Athens, Lycus, 35 Anta3us, 36 Ephippus, 37 
Dion, 38 Demodes, 39 Ptolemy Lagus, 40 Marsyas 41 of Macedon, 

20 A native of Olynthus. His mother, Hero, was a cousin of the philo- 
sopher Aristotle, under whose tutelage he was educated. It is generally 
supposed that he was put to death by order of Alexander the Great, hut in 
what manner is a matter of uncertainty. He wrote a History of Greece, 
and numerous other learned works. Some MSS. are still extant, profess- 
ing to be his writings ; but they are generally looked upon as spurious. 

21 See end of B. vii. 22 See end of B. vii. 

23 A native of Lampsacus, and disciple of Diogenes the Cynic. He ac- 
companied Alexander the Great in his Asiatic expedition. He wrote a 
history of the reigns of Philip and Alexander, and a history of Greece, in 
twelve books. Only a few fragments of his works are left. 

24 See end of B. vii. 25 See end of B. vi. 

26 See end of B. ii. 

27 There was a native of Mendae. in Sicily, of this name, who wrote a 
history of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse. It was, probably, a different 
person of this name who wrote a work on the East ; if such is the case, 
Pliny most probably quotes from the work of the latter. 

28 Nothing seems to be known of this writer ; but it is suggested that 
he may have accompanied Nearchus and Onesicritus in the East. 

g 9 See end of B. vi. 

30 Nothing is known of him : but Hardouin suggests that he may have 
accompanied Alexander the Great in his Eastern expedition. 

31 See end of B. iv. 

32 An officer at the court of Alexander the Great, who wrote a collection 
of anecdotes respecting the private life and reign of that emperor, some 
fragments of which are preserved by Athenseus. 

33 See end of B. iv. 

34 He is supposed to have been the same with the person of that name 
who wrote a history of Alexander the Great ; but nothing further is known 
of him. . . 

35 A physician of Neapolis, who is supposed to have lived in the early 
part of the first century after Christ. 

36 A writer on medicine, of whom all further particulars have perished. 
OT Possibly Ephippus of Olynthus, a Greek historian of the reign of 

Alexander the Great. 

38 See end of B. viii. 

39 An ancient Greek historian, mentioned also by Strabo ; but no further 
particulars are known of him. 

40 The founder of the dynasty of the Egyptian Ptolemies, which ended 
in Cleopatra, B.C. 38 : he wrote a narrative of the wars of Alexander, which 
is frequently quoted by the later writers, and served as the groundwork for 
Arrian's history. 

41 A native of Pella, who wrote a history of Macedonia down to the 

158 plikt's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XII. 

Zoilus 42 of Macedon, Democritus, 43 Amphilochus, 44 Aristo- 
machus, 45 Alexander Polyhistor, 46 Juba, 47 Apollodorus 48 who 
wrote on Perfumes, Heraclides 49 the physician, Archidemus 
the physician, Dionysius 51 the physician, Democlides 52 the 
physician, Euphron 53 the physician, Mnesides 54 the physician, 
Diagoras 55 the physician, Iollas 56 the physician, Heraclides 07 
of Tarentum, Xenocrates 58 of Ephesus, Eratosthenes. 59 

wars of Alexander the Great. There was another writer of the same name, 
a native of Philippi, who also wrote a treatise, either geographical or his- 
torical, relative to Macedonia. 

43 A native of Amphipolis, though some make him to hare been an 
Ephesian. The age in which he lived is not exactly known. He attacked 
the writings of Homer with such uncalled-for asperity, that his name has 
heen proverbial for a snarling, captious critic. He is said to have met 
with a violent death. His literary productions were numerous, hut none 
of them have come down to us. 

« See end of B. ii. 44 See end of B. vm. 

45 See end of B. xi. 46 See end of B. in. 

47 See end of B. v. 48 See end of B. xi. 

49 A physician of Heraclea, near Ephesus. He wrote commentaries on 
the works of Hippocrates. , 

50 Nothing is known of him ; hat it has heen suggested that he may 
have heen the author of a few fragments on veterinary surgery which still 


51 There were many physicians and surgeons of this name, hut probably 
Dionysius of Samos is meant, or else Sallustius Dionysius, quoted by Pliny, 
B. xxxii. c. 26. , 

« Also called Democedes, a physician of Crotona, who practised at 
JEgina. He was afterwards physician to Polycrates, the tyrant of bamos, 
and King Darius, whose foot he cured. His work on medicine has pe- 

53 Nothing whatever is known of this writer. 

54 Nothing is known relative to this writer. 

55 Nothing is known of him. , 

se Or Iolaus, a native of Bithynia, who wrote a work on Materia Medica. 
He was probably a contemporary of Heraclides of Tarentum, in the third 

century B.C. ; , _ „ 

57 A physician of Tarentum, who belonged to the Empiric sect. He 

wrote several medical works, and is highly commended by Galen. Only a 

few fragments of his writings remain, 
is An historical and geographical writer, frequently quoted by Fliny. 

From the mention made of him in B. xxxvii. c. 2, it would appeal- that he 

flourished during the time of Pliny, or very shortly before. 
59 See end of B. ii. 






Thus far we have been speaking of the trees which are 
valuable for the odours they produce, and each of which is a 
subject for our wonder in itself. Luxury, however, has 
thought fit to mingle all of these, and to make a single odour 
of the whole ; hence it is that unguents have been invented. 1 
Who was the first to make unguents is a fact not recorded. 
In the times of the Trojan war 2 they did not exist, nor did 
they use incense when sacrificing to the gods ; indeed, people 
knew of no other smell, or rather stench, 3 I may say, than that 
of the cedar and the citrus, 4 shrubs of their own growth, as it 
arose in volumes of smoke from the sacrifices ; still, however, 
even then, the extract of roses was known, for we find it men- 
tioned as conferring additional value on olive-oil. 

We ought, by good rights, to ascribe the first use of un- 
guents to the Persians, for they quite soak themselves in it, 
and so, by an adventitious recommendation, counteract the 
bad odours which are produced by dirt. The first instance of 
the use of unguents that I have been able to meet with is that of 
the chest 5 of perfumes which fell into the hands of Alexander, 
with the rest of the property of King Darius, at the taking of his 

1 Fee remarks, that most of the unguents aud perfumes of which Pliny 
here speaks would find but little favour at the present day. 

2 This does not appear to be exactly the case, for in the twenty-third 
Book of the Iliad, 1. 186, we find "rose-scented" oil mentioned, indeed, 
Pliny himself alludes to it a little further on. 

3 " Nidoi-em." This term was used in reference to the smell of burnt or 
roasted animal substances. It is not improbable that he alludes to the 
stench arising from the burnt sacrifices. 

4 The "Thuya articulata." See c. 29 of the present Book. 
' " Scrinium." See B. vii. c. 30. 


camp. 6 Since those times this luxury has been adopted by 
our own countrymen as well, among the most prized and, in- 
deed, the most elegant of all the enjoyments of life, and has 
begun even to be admitted in the list of honours paid to the 
dead; for which reason we shall have to enlarge further on 
that subject. Those perfumes which are not the produce of 
shrubs 7 will only be mentioned for the present by name : the 
nature of them will, however, be stated in their appropriate 


The names of unguents are due, some of them, to the ori- 
ginal place of their composition, others, again, to the extracts 
which form their bases, others to the trees from which they 
are derived, and others to the peculiar circumstance under 
which they were first made : and it is as well, first of all, to 
know that in this respect the fashion has often changed, and 
that the high repute of peculiar kinds has been but transitory. 
In ancient times, the perfumes the most esteemed of all were 
those of the island of Delos, 8 and at a later period those of 
Mendes. 9 This degree of esteem is founded, not only on the 
mode of mixing them and the relative proportions, but accord- 
ing to the degree of favour or disfavour in which the various 
places which produce the ingredients are held, and the compa- 
rative excellence or degeneracy of the ingredients themselves. 
The perfume of iris, 10 from Corinth, was long held in the 
highest esteem, till that of Cyzicus came into fashion. It was 
the same, too, with the perfume of roses, 11 from Phaselis, 12 the 

6 The use of perfumes more probably originated in India, than among 
the Persians. 

7 But of seeds or plants 

8 The perfumes of Delos themselves had nothing in particular to re- 
commend them ; but as it was the centre of the worship of Apollo, it is not 
improbable that exquisite perfumes formed a large proportion of the offer- 
ings brought thither from all parts of the world. 

9 In Egypt. See B. v. c. 11. The unguents of Mendes are again men- 
tioned in the present Chapter. 

10 Or flower-de-luce. This perfume was called Irinum. The Iris Flo- 
rentina of the botanists, Fee says, has the smell of the violet. For the 
composition of this perfume, see Dioscorides, B. i, c. 67. 

1 Bhodinura. n See B. v. c. 26. 

Chnp. 2.] UNGUENTS. 


repute of which was afterwards eclipsed by those of jSTeapolis, 
Capua, and Praeneste. Oil of saffron, 13 from Soli in Cilicia, 
was for a long time held in repute beyond any other, and then 
that from Rhodes ; after which perfume of oenanthe, 14 from Cy- 
prus, came into fashion, and then that of Egypt was preferred. 
At a later period that of Adramytteum came into vogue, and 
then was supplanted by unguent of marjoram, 15 from Cos, 
which in its turn was superseded by quince blossom 16 unguent 
from the same place. As to perfume of Cyprus, 17 that from 
the island of Cyprus was at first preferred, and then that of 
Egypt ; when all on a sudden the unguents of Mendes^ and 
metopium 18 rose into esteem. In later times Phoenicia eclipsed 
Egypt in the manufacture of these last two, but left to that 
country the repute of producing the best unguent of Cyprus. 

Athens has perseveringly maintained the repute of her 
panathenaicon. 19 There was formerly a famous unguent, 
known as "pardaliuro," 20 and made at Tarsus; at the present 
day its very composition and the mode of mixing it are quite 
unknown there : they have left off, too, making unguent of 
narcissus 21 from the flowers of that plant. 

There are two elements which enter into the composition of 
unguents, the juices and the solid parts. The former generally 
consist of various kinds of oils, the latter of odoriferous sub- 
stances. These last are known as hedysmata, while the oils 
are called stymmata. 22 There is a third element, which occu- 

13 Crocinum ; made from the Crocus sativus of naturalists. 

14 See B. xii. c. 62. It was made from the flowers of the vine, mixed 
with omphaciam. . 

13 Amaracinum. The amaracus is supposed to have been the Origanum 
majoranoides of the moderns. Dioscorides, B. i. c. 59, says that the best 
was made at Cyzicus. 

16 Melinum. See B. xxiii. c. 54. 

" Cyprinum. See B. xii. c. 51. The Cyprus was -the modern Law- 
sonia inermis. 

18 Made from the oil of hitter almonds. See B. xv. c. 7. 

19 Or " all Athenian." Wo find in Athenaeus, B. xv. c. 15, the com- 
position of this unguent. 

20 From what is said by Apollonius in the passage of Athenaeus last 
quoted, it has been thought that this was the same as the unguent called nar- 
dinum. It is very doubtful, however. 

21 Narcissinum. See B. xxi. c. 75. Dioscorides gives the composition 
of this unguent, B. i. c. 54. 

2- Among the stymmata, Dioscorides ranges the sweet-rush, the sweet- 




pies a place between the two, but has been much neglected, 
the colouring matter, namely. To produce a colour, however, 
cinnabar 23 and alkanet 24 are often employed. If salt 25 is 
sprinkled in the oil, it will aid it in retaining its properties ; 
but if alkanet has been employed, salt is never used. Kesin 
and gum are added to fix the odour in the solid perfumes ; 
indeed it is apt to die away and disappear with the greatest 
rapidity if these substances are not employed. 

The unguent which is the most readily prepared of all, 
and indeed, in all probability, the very first that was ever 
made, is that composed of bryon 26 and oil of balanus, 27 sub- 
stances of which we have made mention already. In later 
times the Mendesian unguent was invented, a more compli- 
cated mixture^ as resin and myrrh were added to oil of ba- 
lanus, and at the present day they even add metopion 28 as 
well, an Egyptian oil extracted from bitter almonds ; to which 
have been added omphacium, 29 cardamum, 30 sweet rush, 31 honey, 32 
wine, myrrh, seed of balsamum, 33 galbanum, 34 and resin ot 
terebinth, 35 as so many ingredients. Among the most common 
unguents at the present day, and for that reason supposed to 
be the most ancient, is that composed of oil of myrtle, 36 cala- 
mus, cypress, 37 Cyprus, mastich, 38 and pomegranate-rind. 39 I am 
scented calamus and xylo-balsamum ; and among the hedysmata amomum, 
nard, myrrh, balsam, costus, and marjoram. The latter constituted the 
base of unguents, the former were only added occasionally. 

23 Cinnabar is never used to colour cosmetics at the present day, from 
its tendency to excoriate the skin. See B. xxiii. c. 39. 

24 This is still used for colouring cosmetics at the present day. See B. 
xxii. c. 23. 

25 Fee remarks, that salt can be of no use ; but by falling to the bottom 
without dissolving, would rather tend to spoil the unguent. 

26 See B. xii. c. 60. The name "bryon " seems also to have been ex- 
tended to the buds of various trees of the Conifera class and of the white 
poplar. It is probably to the buds of the last tree that Pliny here 
alludes. 27 Oil of ben. See B. xii. c. 48. 

28 Or metopium. See Note 18 above. 

29 Made from olives. See B. xii. c. 60. 30 See B. xii. c. 29. 
31 The modern Andropogon schoenanthus. See B. xii. c. 48. 

33 See B. xii. c. 48. 33 Carpobalsamum. See. B. xii, c. 54. 

3 * See B. xii. c. 56. 

35 Fluid resin of coniferous trees of Europe. 

38 See B. xv. c. 35. 

37 Cupressus semper-virens. He does not say what part of the tree 
was employed. 38 See B. xii. c. 36. 

39 See c. 34 of the present Book. 

Chap. 2.] UNGUENTS. 1 63 

of opinion, however, that the unguents which have been the 
most universally adopted, are those which are compounded of 
the rose, a flower that grows everywhere; and hence for 
a long time the composition of oil of roses was of the most 
simple nature, though more recently there have been added 
omphacium, rose blossoms, cinnabar, calamus, honey, sweet- 
rush, flour of salt or else alkanet, 40 and wine. The same 
is the case, too, with oil of saffron, to which have been lately 
added cinnabar, alkanet, and wine ; and with oil of sampsuchum, 41 
with which omphacium and calamus have been compounded. 
The best comes from Cyprus and Mitylene, where sampsuchum 
abounds in large quantities. 

The commoner kinds of oil, too, are mixed with those of 
myrrh and laurel, to which are added sampsuchum, lilies, 
fenugreek, n^rrh, cassia, 42 nard, 43 sweet-rush, and cinnamon. 44 
There is an oil, too, made of the common quince and the 
sparrow quince, called melinum, as we shall have occasion to 
mention hereafter ; 45 it is used as an ingredient in unguents, 
mixed with omphacium, oil of Cyprus, oil of sesamum, 46 balsa- 
mum, 47 sweet- rush, cassia, and abrotonum. 48 Susinum 49 is 
the most fluid of them all : it is made of lilies, oil of balanus, 
calamus, honey, cinnamon, saffron, 50 and myrrh ; while, the 
unguent of Cyprus 51 is compounded of Cyprus, omphacium 

40 The alkanet and cinnabar were only used for colouring. 

41 " Sampsuchinum." It is generally supposed that the sampsuchum, 
and the amaracus were the same, the sweet marjoram, or Origanum mar- 
jorana of Linnaeus. Fee, however, is of a contrary opinion, See B. xxi. 
c. 35. In Dioscorides, B. i. c. 59, there is a difference made between 
sampsuchinum and amaracinum, though but a very slight one. 

43 The bark of the Cassia lignea of the pharmacopoea, the Laurus cassia 
of botany. See B. xii. c. 43. 

43 See B. xii. c. 26. The Andropogon nardus of Linngeus. 

44 See B. xii. c. 41. 

45 See B. xxiii. c. 54, also B. xv. c. 10. The Malum struthium, or 
"sparrow quince," was an oblong variety of the fruit. 

46 Sesamum orientale of Linnseus. See B. xviii. c. 22, and B. sxii. 
c. 54. 

47 Balm of Gilead. See B. xii. c. 54. 

48 Southernwood. The Artemisia abrotonum of Linnaeus. 

49 Or lily unguent, made of the lily of Susa, which had probably a 
more powerful smell than-tkat of Europe. Dioscorides gives its composi- 
tion, B. i. c. 63. 

50 The Crocus sativus of Linnreus. 

51 Cyprinum. It has been previously mentioned in this Chapter. 

m 2 


and cardamum, calamus, aspalathus, 52 and abrotonum. There 
are some persons who, when making unguent of Cyprus, em- 
ploy myrrh also, and panax : 53 the best is that made at Sidon, 
and the next best that of Egypt : care must be taken not to 
add oil of sesamum : it will keep as long as four years, and its 
odour is strengthened by the addition of cinnamon. Telinum 54 
is made of fresh olive- oil, cypirus, 55 calamus, melilote, 56 fenu- 
greek, honey, marum, 57 and sweet marjoram. This last was 
the perfume most in vogue in the time of the Comic poet 
Menander: a considerable time after that known as u me- 
galium" took its place, being so called as holding the very 
highest rank ; M it was composed of oil of balanus, balsamum, 
calamus, sweet-rush, xylobalsamum, 59 cassia, and resin. One 
peculiar property of this unguent is, that it requires to be 
constantly stirred while boiling, until it has lost all smell : 
when it becomes cold, it recovers its odour. 60 

There are some single essences also which, individually, 
afford unguents of very high character : the first rank is due 
to malobathrum, 61 and the next to the iris of Illyricum and 
the sweet marjoram of Cyzicus, both of them herbs. There 
are perfumers who sometimes add some few other ingredients 
to these : those who use the most, employ for the purpose 
honey, flour of salt, omphacium, leaves of agnus, 62 and panax, 
all of them foreign ingredients. 63 The price of unguent 64 of 

52 See B. xii. c. 52. 

53 The gum resin of the Pastinaca opopanax of Linnaeus. See B. xii. 
c. 57. 

54 Or unguent of fenugreek, from the Greek TrfKiq, meaning that plant, 
the Trigonella fcenum Graecum of Linnaeus. See B. xxiv. c. 120. 

55 See B. ii. c. 26, and B. xxi. c. 68—70. 

56 The Trifolium melilotus of Linnaeus. See B. xxi. c. 30. 
5; See B. xii. c. 53. 

58 He would imply that it was so called from the Greek ntyag, *| great ;" 
but it was more generally said that it received its name from its inventor, 

69 See B. xii. c. 5. 

60 Fee does not appear to credit this statement. By the use of the 
word " ventiletur," "fanned" may be possibly implied. 

« See B. xii. c. 59. 

63 The Agnus castus of Linnaeus. See B. xxiv. c. 38. The leaves are 
quite inodorous, though the fruit of this plant is slightly aromatic. 

06 u Externa." The reading is doubtful, and it is difficult to say what is 
the exact meaning of the word. 

* 4 Cinnamomino. 

Chap. 2.] UNGUENTS. 165 

cinnamon is quite enormous ; to cinnamon there is added oil 
of balanus, xylobalsamum, calamus, sweet-rush, seeds of 
balsamum, myrrh, and perfumed honey : it is the thickest in 
consistency of all the unguents ; the price at which it sells 
ranges from thirty-five to three hundred denarii per pound. 
Unguent of nard, 66 or foliatum, is composed of omphacium or 
else oil of balanus, sweet-rush, costus, 67 nard, amomum, 68 
myrrh, and balsamum. 

While speaking on this subject, it will be as well to bear in 
mind that there are nine different kinds of plants of a similar 
kind, of which we have already made mention 69 as being em- 
ployed for the purpose of imitating Indian nard ; so abun- 
dant are the materials that are afforded for adulteration. All 
these perfumes are rendered still more pungent by the addi- 
tion of costus and amomum, which have a particularly power- 
ful effect on the olfactory organs ; while myrrh gives them 
greater consistency and additional sweetness, and saffron makes 
them better adapted for medicinal purposes. They are most 
pungent, however, when mixed with amomum alone, which 
will often produce head-ache even. There are some persons who 
content themselves with sprinkling the more precious ingre- 
dients upon the others after boiling them down, for the pur- 
pose of economy ; but the strength of the unguent is not so 
great as when the ingredients have been boiled together. 
Myrrh used by itself, and without the mixture of oil, forms 
an unguent, but it is stacte 70 only that must be used, for other- 
wise it will be productive of too great bitterness. Unguent of 
Cyprus turns other unguents green, while lily unguent 71 makes 
them more unctuous : the unguent of Mendes turns them 
black, rose unguent makes them white, and that of myrrh 
of a pallid hue. 

Such are the particulars of the ancient inventions, and the 
various falsifications of the shops in later times ; we will now 
pass on to make mention of what is the very height of refine- 
ment in these articles of luxury, indeed, I may say, the beau 
ideal 72 of them all. 

65 Nardinum. 

66 Or leaf unguent, so called from being made of leaves of nard. See 
B. x.ii. c. 27. 

« See B. xii. c. 25. 68 See B. xii. c. 28. 

69 See B. xii. c. 26, 27, where the list is given. 

70 See B. xii. c. 35. ,l Susiuum. See p. 1G3. 
72 Summa auetoritus rei. 

166 flint's natural histoet. [Book XIII. 

(2.) This is what is called the "regal" unguent, from the 
fact that it is composed in these proportions for the kings of 
the Parthians. It consists of myrohalanus, 73 costus, amomum, 
cinnamon, comacum, 74 cardamum, spikenard, marum, myrrh, 
cassia, storax, 75 ladanum, 76 opobalsamum, Syrian calamus 77 and 
Syrian sweet-rush, w cenanthe, malobathrum, serichatum, 79 
Cyprus, aspralathus, panax, saffron, cypirus, sweet marjoram, 
lotus, 80 honey, and wine. Not one of the ingredients in this 
compound is produced either in Italy, that conqueror of the 
■world, or, indeed, in all Europe, with the exception of the 
iris, which grows in Illyricum, and the nard, which is to be 
found in Gaul : as to the wine, the rose, the leaves of myr- 
tle, and the olive-oil, they are possessed by pretty nearly all 
countries in common. 


Those unguents which are known by the name of " dia- 
pasma," 81 are composed of dried perfumes. The lees 82 of un- 
guents are known by the name of "magma. 83 " In all these 
preparations the most powerful perfume is the one that is 
added the last of all. Unguents keep best in boxes of ala- 
baster, 84 and perfumes 85 when mixed with oil, which conduces 
all the more to their durability the thicker it is, such as the 
oil of almonds, for instance, tlnguents, too, improve with age ; 
but the sun is apt to spoil them, for which reason they are 
usually stowed away in a shady place in vessels of lead. 
When their goodness is being tested, they are placed on the 
back of the hand, lest the heat of the palm, which is more 
fleshy, should have a bad effect upon them. 

73 See B. xii. c. 46. 74 See B. xii. c. 53. 

" 5 See B. xii. c. 55. " 6 See B. xii. c. 37. 

77 See B. xii. c. 48. 76 See B. xii. c. 48. 

79 See B. xii. c. 45. 

80 Fee suggests that this may be the Nymphaea ccerulea of Savigny, a 
plant that is common in the Nile, and the flowers of which exhale a sweet 

sl The diapasmata were dry, odoriferous powders, similar to those used 
at the present day in sachets and scent-hags. 

82 " Faecem unguenti." 

83 This word is still used in pharmacy to denote the husks or residuary 
matter left after the extraction of the juice. 

8i See B. xxxvi. c. 12. See also Markxiv. 7, and John xii. 3. Leaden 
boxes were also used for a similar purpose. 
85 Odores. 

Chap. 4.] 




These perfumes form the objects of a luxury which may be 
looked upon as being the most superfluous of any, for pearls 
and jewels, after all, do pass to a man's representative, 86 and 
garments have some durability; but unguents lose their 
odour in an instant, and die away the very hour they are 
used. The very highest recommendation of them is, that 
when a female passes by, the odour which proceeds from her 
may possibly attract the attention of those even Avho till then 
are intent upon something else. In price they exceed so krge 
a sum even as four hundred denarii per pound : so vast isthe 
amount that is paid for a luxury made not for our own enjoy- 
ment, but for that of others ; for the person who carries the 
perfume about him is not the one, after all, that smells it. 

And yet, even here, there are some points of difference that 
deserve to be remarked. We read in the works of Cicero, n 
that those unguents which smell of the earth are preferable to 
those which smell of saffron ; being a proof, that even in a 
matter which most strikingly bespeaks our state of extreme 
corruptness, it is thought as well to temper the vice by a little 
show of austerity. 88 There are some persons too who look more 
particularly for consistency 89 in their unguents, to which they 
accordingly give the name of " spissum ; 89 * thus showing that 
they love not only to be sprinkled, but even to be plastered over, 
with unguents. "We have known the very soles 90 even of the 
feet to be sprinkled with perfumes ; a refinement which was 
taught, it is said, by M. Otho 91 to the Emperor Nero. How, 

86 " Heres." The persorf was so called who succeeded to the property, 
whether real or personal, of an intestate. 

87 See B. xvii. c. 3, where he quotes this passage from Cicero at length. 
It appears to be from De Orat. B. iii. c. 69. Both Cicero and Pliny pro- 
fess to find a smell that arises from the earth itself, through the agency of 
the sun. But, as Fee remarks, pure earth is perfectly inodorous. He sug- 
gests, however, that this odour attributed by the ancients to the earth, may 
in reality have proceeded from the fibrous roots of thyme and other plants. 
If such is not the real solution, it sterns impossible to suggest any other. 

b8 jgy giving preference to the more simple odours. 

83 "Crassitude" *** Or "thick" unguent. 

so We learn from Athenaeus, and a passage in the Aulularia of Plautus, 
that this was done long before Nero's time, among the Greeks. 

9i Who succeeded Galba. He was one of Nero's favourite companions 
in his debaucheries. 


I should like to know, could a perfume be at all perceptible, 
or, indeed, productive of any kind of pleasure, when placed 
on that part of the body ? AVe have heard also of a private 
person giving- orders for the walls of the bath-room to be 
sprinkled with unguents, while the Emperor Cains 93 had the 
same thing done to his sitting-bath : 93 that this, too, might not 
be looked upon as the peculiar privilege of a prince, it was 
afterwards done by one of the slaves that belonged to Nero. 

But the most wonderful thing of all is, that this kind of 
luxurious gratification should have made its way into the camp 
even : at all events, the eagles and the standards, dusty as 
they are, and bristling with their sharpened points, are 
anointed on festive 94 days. I only wish it could, by any pos- 
sibility, be stated who it was that first taught us this practice. 
It was, no doubt, under the corrupting influence of such temp- 
tations as these, that our eagles achieved the conquest 95 of the 
world : thus do we seek to obtain their patronage and sanc- 
tion for our vices, and make them our precedent for using 
unguents even beneath the casque. 96 


I cannot exactly say at what period the use of unguents 
first found its way to Rome. It is a well-known fact, that 
when King Antiochus and Asia 97 were subdued, an edict was 
published in the year of the City 565, in the censorship of P. 
Licinius Crassus and L. Julius Caesar, forbidding any one to 
sell exotics ; 9S for by that name unguents were then called. 
But, in the name of Hercules ! at the present day, there are 
some persons who even go so far as to put them in their drink, 
and the bitterness produced thereby is prized to a high degree, 
in order that by their lavishness on these odours they may 
thus gratify the senses of two parts 99 of the body at the same 
moment. 1 It is a well-known historical fact, that L. Plotius, 2 

9 - Caligula. 93 Solium. 

94 After victories, for instance, or when marching orders were given. 

95 This is said in bitter irony. 96 Sub easside. 
97 Asia Minor more particularly. 9 * Exotica. 

99 The organs of taste and of smell. 

1 We have this fact alluded to in the works of Plautus, Juvenal, Martial, 
and JElian. The Greeks were particularly fond of mixing myrrh with 
their wine. Nard wine is also mentioned by Plautus. Miles Gl. iii. 2, 11. 

- Or Lucius Tlautius Plancus. lie was proscribed by the triumvirs, 

Chap. 6.] THE PALM-TREE. \C ( J 

the brother of L. Plancus, who was twice consul and censor, 
after being proscribed by the Triumvirs, was betrayed in his 
place of concealment at Salcrnum by the smell of his un- 
guents, a disgrace which more than outweighed all the guilt 3 
attending his proscription. For who is there that can be of 
opinion that such men as this do not richly deserve to come to 
a violent end ? 


In other respects, Egypt is the country that is the best suited 
of all for the production of unguents ; and next to it, Cam- 
pania, 4 from its abundance of roses. 

(4.) Judaea, too, is greatly renowned for its perfumes, and 
even still more so for its palm-trees, 5 the nature of which I 
shall take this opportunity of enlarging upon. There are some 
found in Europe also. They are not uncommon in Italy, but 
are quite barren there. 6 The palms on the coast of Spain bear 
fruit, but it is sour. 7 The fruit of those of Africa is sweet, 
but quickly becomes vapid and loses its flavour; which, how- 
ever is not the case with the fruit of those that grow in the 
East. 8 Erom these trees a wine is made, and bread by some 
nations, 9 and they afford an aliment for numerous quadrupeds. 
It will be with very fair reason then, that we shall confine our 
description to the palm-tree of foreign countries. There are 

with the sanction of his brother. In consequence of his use of perfumes, 
the place of his concealment " got wind ;" and in order to save his slaves, 
who were being tortured to death because they would not betray him, he 
voluntarily surrendered himself. 

3 Attaching to the triumvirate. 

4 Capua, its capital, was the great seat of the unguent and perfume 
manufacture in Italy. 

5 The Phoenix dactylifera of Linnaeus. See also B. xii. c. 62, where he 
seems also to allude to this tree. 

6 At the present day this is not the fact. The village of La Bordighiera, 
situate on an eminence of the Apennines, grows great quantities of date.-, 
of good quality. At Hieres, Nice, San Bemo, and Genoa, they are also 

7 This, too, is not the fact. The dates of Valencia, Seville, and other 
provinces of Spain, are sweet, and of excellent quality. 

b Pliny is wrong again in this statement. The date of Barhary, Tunis, 
Algiers, and Bildulgerid, the "land of dates," is superior in every respect 
to that of the East. 

9 The ^Ethiopians, as we learn from Thcophrastus, B. ii. c. 8. 

170 flint's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XIII. 

none in Italy that grow spontaneously, 10 nor, in fact, in any 
other part of the world, with the exception of the warm coun- 
tries : indeed, it is only in the very hottest climates that this 
tree will bear fruit. 


The palm-tree grows in a light and sandy soil, and for the 
most part of a nitrous quality. It loves the vicinity of flowing 
water ; and as it is its nature to imbibe the whole of the year, 
there are some who are of opinion that in a year of drought 
it will receive injury from being manured even, if the manure 
is not first mixed with running water : this, at least, is the idea 
entertained by some of the Assyrians. 

The varieties of the palm are numerous. First of all, there 
are those which do not exceed the size of a shrub ; they are 
mostly barren, though sometimes they are known to produce 
fruit ; the branches are short, and the tree is well covered with 
leaves all round. In many places this tree is used as a kind 
of rough-cast, 11 as it were, to protect the walls of houses 
against damp. The palms of greater height form whole 
forests, the trunk of the tree being protected all round by 
pointed leaves, which are arranged in the form of a comb ; 
these, it must be understood, are wild palms, though sometimes, 
by some wayward fancy or other, they are known to make 
their appearance among the cultivated varieties. The other 
kinds are tall, round, and tapering ; and being furnished with 
dense and projecting knobs or circles in the bark, arranged in 
regular gradation, they are found easy of ascent by the people 
in the East ; in order to do which, the climber fastens a loop 
of osier round his body and the trunk, and by this contrivance 
ascends the tree with astonishing 12 rapidity. All the foliage is 
at the summit, and the fruit as well ; this last being situate, 
not among the leaves, as is the case with other trees, but 
hanging in clusters from shoots of its own among the 
branches, and partaking of the nature both of the grape and 
the apple. The leaves terminate in a sharp edge, like that of 
a knife, while the sides are deeply indented — a peculiarity 

10 Or in a wild state. 

11 " Tectorii vicem." They were probably planted in rows, close to the 

12 This mode of ascending the date-palm is still practised in the East. 

Chap. 7.] THE PALM-TREE. 171 

which first gave the idea of a troop of soldiers presenting face 
on two sides at once ; at the present day they are split asunder 13 
to form ropes and wythes for fastening, as well as light um- 
brellas u for covering the head. 

The more diligent 15 enquirers into the operations of Nature 
state that all trees, or rather all plants, and other productions 
of the earth, belong to either one sex or the other ; a fact 
which it may be sufficient to notice on the present occasion, 
and one which manifests itself in no tree more than in the 
palm. The male tree blossoms at the shoots ; the female buds 
without blossoming, the bud being very similar to an ear of 
corn. In both trees the flesh of the fruit shows first, and 
after that the woody part inside of it, or, in other words, the 
seed : and that this is really the case, is proved by the fact, that 
we often find small fruit on the same shoot without any seed in 
it at all. This seed is of an oblong shape, and not rounded 
like the olive-stone. It is also divided down the back by a 
deep indentation, and in most specimens of this fruit there 
is exactly in the middle a sort of navel, as it were, from which 
the root of the tree first takes its growth. 16 In planting this 
seed it is laid on its anterior surface, two being placed side 
by side, while as many more are placed above ; for when 
planted singly, the tree that springs up is but weak and 
sickly, whereas the four seeds all unite and form one strong 
tree. The seed is divided from the flesh of the fruit by several 
coats of a whitish colour, some of which are attached to the 
body of it ; it lies but loosely in the inside of the fruit, ad- 
hering only to the summit by a single thread. 17 

The flesh of this fruit takes a year to ripen, though in some 
places, Cyprus 18 for instance, even if it should not reach ma- 
turity, it is very agreeable, for the sweetness of its flavour : 
the leaf of the tree too, in that island, is broader than else- 
where, and the fruit rounder than usual : the body of the fruit 

13 See B. xvi. c. 37. 

14 " Umbracula." The fibres of the leaves were probably platted or woven, 
and the "umbracula" made in much the same manner as the straw and 
fibre hats of the present day. 

15 Most of this is borrowed from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant, ii. 9. 

16 Fee remarks, that this account is quite erroneous. 

17 This he copies also from Theophrastus, B. ii. c. 8. 

18 Theophrastus, B. ii. c. 8, mentions this as a kind of date peculiar to 


however, is never eaten, but is always spit 19 out again, after 
the juice has been extracted. In Arabia, the palm fruit is 
said to have a sickly sweet taste, although Juba says that he 
prefers the date found among the Arabian Sceriitse, 20 and to 
which they give the name of "dablan," before those of any 
other country for flavour. In addition to the above parti- 
culars, it is asserted that in a forest of natural growth the 
female 21 trees will become barren if they are deprived of the 
males, and that many female trees may be seen surrounding a 
single male with downcast heads and a foliage that seems to be 
bowing caressingly towards it ; while the male tree, on the 
other hand, with leaves all bristling and erect, by its exha- 
lations, and even the very sight of it and the dust 22 from 
off it, fecundates the others : if the male tree, too, should 
happen to be cut down, the female trees, thus reduced to a state 
of widowhood, will at once become barren and' unproductive. 
So well, indeed, is this sexual union between them understood, 
that it has been imagined even that fecundation may be en- 
sured through the agency of man, by means of the blossoms 
and the down 23 gathered from off the male trees, and, indeed, 
sometimes by only sprinkling the dust from off them on the 
female trees. 


Palm-trees are also propagated by planting ; 24 the trunk is 
first divided with certain fissures two cubits in length which 
communicate with the pith of the tree, and is then buried in 
the earth. A slip also torn away from the root will produce 
a sucker with vitality, and the same may be obtained from the 
more tender among the branches. In Assyria, the tree itself 

19 This is said solely in relation to the date of Cyprus. 

20 Or " dwellers in tents;" similar to the modern Bedouins. 

21 Fee remarks, that in these words we find the first germs of the sexual 
system that has been established by the modern botanists. He thinks that 
it is clearly shown by this account, that Pliny was acquainted with the 
fecundation of plants by the agency of the pollen, 

22 In allusion to the pollen, possibly. See the last Note. 

23 " Lanugine." It is possible that in the use of this word, also, he 
may allude to the pollen. Under the term "pulvis," " dust," he probably 
alludes in exaggerated terms to the same theory. 

24 The same methods of propagating the palm are still followed in the 
East, and in the countries near the tropics. 

Chap. 9.] PALM-TREES. 1 73 

is sometimes laid level, and then covered over in a moist soil ; 
upon which it will throw out roots all over, but it will grow 
only to be a number of shrubs, and never a tree : hence it is 
that they plant nurseries, and transplant the young trees when 
a year old, and again when two years old, as they thrive all 
the better for being transplanted ; this is done in the spring 
season in other countries, but in Assyria about the rising of the 
Dog-star. Tn those parts they do not touch the young trees 
with the knife, but merely tie up the foliage that they may 
shoot upwards, and so attain considerable height. When 
they are strong they prune them, in order to increase their 
thickness, but in so doing leave the branches for about half a 
foot ; indeed, if they were cut off at any other place, the ope- 
ration would kill the parent tree. We have already 25 men- 
tioned that they thrive particularly well in a saltish soil; 
hence, when the soil is not of that nature, it is the custom to 
scatter salt, not exactly about the roots, but at a little distance 
off. There are palm-trees in Syria and in Egypt which divide 
into two trunks, and some in Crete into three and as many as 
five even. 26 Some of these trees bear immediately at the end of 
three years, and in Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt, when they are 
four years old ; others again at the end of hve years : at which 
period the tree is about the height of a man. So long as the 
tree is quite young the fruit has no seed within, from which 
circumstance it has received the nickname of the " eunuch."" 



There are numerous varieties of the palm-tree. In Assyria, 
and throughout the whole of Persis, the barren kinds are made 
use of for carpenters' work, and the various appliances of 
luxury. There are whole forests also of palm-trees adapted 
for cutting, 28 and which, after they are cut, shoot again from 

25 In c. 7 of the present Book. See also B. xvii. c. 3. 

26 Fee mentions one near Elvas in Spain, which shot up into seven distinct 
trees, as it were, from a single trunk. The Douma Thebaica, he says, of 
Syria and Egypt, a peculiar kind of palm, is also bifurcated. The fruit 
of it, he thinks, are very probably the Phaenico-balanus of B. xii. c. 47. 

2 7 " Spado." Represented by the Greek evvovxog and ivopxoQ. 

2 § " Caeduse " Though this is the fact as to some palm-trees, the greater 
part perish after being cut ; the vital bud occupying the summit, and the 
trunk not being susceptible of any increase. 

174 plint's natukal history. [Book XIII. 

the root ; the pith of them towards the top, which is usually- 
called the brain 29 of the tree, is sweet to the taste, and the 
tree will live even after it has been extracted, which is the case 
with no other kind. The name of this tree is "chamaereps ;' ,3 ° 
it has a broader and softer leaf than the others, which is ex- 
tremely useful for various kinds of wickerwork ; 31 these trees are 
very numerous in Crete, and even more so in Sicily. The 
wood of the palm-tree, when ignited, burns both brightly and 
slowly. 32 In some of those that bear fruit, 33 the seed of the fruit 
is shorter than in others, while in some, again, it is longer ; in 
some it is softer than in others, and in some harder ; in some 
it is osseous and crescent-shaped ; polished with a tooth, super- 
stition employs the stone as an antidote against charms and fas- 
cination. This stone is enclosed in several coats, more or less 
in number ; sometimes they are of a thick texture, and some- 
times very thin. 

Hence it is that we find nine and forty different kinds of 
palm-trees, if any one will be at the trouble of enumerating all 
their various barbarous names, and the different wines that are 
extracted from them. The most famous of all, are those 
which, for the sake of distinction, have received the name of 
"royal" palms, because they were preserved solely by the 
kings of Persia ; these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, 
and there only in the garden of Bagous, 34 that being the 
Persian for an eunuch, several of whom have even reigned 
over that country ! This garden was always carefully retained 
within 35 the precincts of the royal court. 

In the southern parts of the world, the dates known as 

29 Cerebrum. 

30 The Chamsereps humilis of the modern botanists. It is found, among 
other countries, in Spain, Morocco, and Arabia. 

31 Vitilia. 

33 " Vivaces." Perhaps it may mean that the wood retains the fire for a 
long time, when it burns. 

33 Fee suggests that Pliny may possibly have confounded the fruit of 
okher palms with the date. 

34 This seems to have been a general name, as Pliny says, meaning an 
eunuch ; but it is evident that it was also used as a proper name, as in the 
case of the eunuch who slew Artaxerxes, Ochus, b.c. 338, by poison, 
and of another eunuch who belonged to Darius, but afterwards fell into 
the hands of Alexander, of whom he became an especial favourite. The 
name is sometimes written " Bagous," and sometimes " Bagoas." 

35 Dominantis in aula. 

Chap. 9.] DATES. 175 

" syagri, 36 hold the highest rank, and next after them those 
that are called " margarides." These last are short, white, 
and round, and bear a stronger resemblance to grapes than to 
dates ; for which reason it is that they have received their 
name, in consequence of their close resemblance to " marga- 
ritse," or pearls. It is said that there is only one tree that 
bears them, and that in the locality known as Chora. 37 The 
same is the case also with the tree that bears the syagri. We 
have heard a wonderful story too, relative to this last tree, to 
the effect that it dies and comes to life again in a similar 
manner to the phoenix, which, it is generally thought, has 
borrowed its name from the palm-tree, in consequence of this 
peculiarity ; at the moment that I am writing this, that tree 
is still bearing fruit. As for the fruit itself, it is large, hard, 
and of a rough appearance, and differing in taste from all other 
kinds, having a sort of wild flavour peculiar to itself, and 
not unlike that of the flesh of the wild boar ; it^ is evidently 
this circumstance from which it has derived its name of 
" syagrus." 

In the fourth rank are the dates called " sandalides," from 
their resemblance to a sandal in shape. It is stated, that on 
the confines of ^Ethiopia there are but five of these trees at 
the most, no less remarkable for the singular lusciousness of 
their fruit, than for their extreme rarity. Next to these, the 
dates known as " caryotse " 38 are the most esteemed, affording 
not only plenty of nutriment, but a great abundance of juice ; 
it is from these that the principal wines 39 are made in the 
East ; these wines are apt to affect the head, a circumstance 
from which the fruit derives its name. But if these trees are 
remarkable for their abundance and fruitfulness, it is in Judaea 
that they enjoy the greatest repute; not, indeed, throughout 
the whole of that territory, but more particularly at Hiericus, 40 
although those that grow at Archelais, Phaselis, and Livias, 
vallies in the same territory, are highly esteemed. The more 

30 From the Greek avaypog, "a wild boar," as Pliny afterwards states ; 
they being so called from their peculiar wild taste. 

3 7 See B. vi. c. 39. 

s8 Said to have been so called from the Greek Kaprj, " the head," and 
iw^ia, " stupidity," owing to the heady nature of the wine extracted from 
the fruit. 

19 See B. vi. c. 32, and B. xiv. c. 19. 

40 The Jericho of Scripture. 

176 pllnt's natural history. [Book XIII. 

remarkable quality of these is a rich, unctuous juice ; they are 
of a milky consistency, and have a sort of vinous flavour, with 
a remarkable sweetness, like that of honey. The Mcolaan 41 
dates are of a similar kind, but somewhat drier; they are 
of remarkable size, so much so, indeed, that four of them, 
placed end to end, will make a cubit in length. A less fine 
kind, but of sister quality to the caryotae for flavour, are the 
" adelphides," 42 hence so called ; these come next to them in 
sweetness, but still are by no means their equals. A third 
kind, again, are the patetee, which abound in juice to excess, 
so much so, indeed, that the fruit bursts, in its excess of liquor, 
even upon the parent tree, and presents all the appearance of 
having been trodden 43 under foot. 

There are numerous kinds of dates also, of a drier nature, 
which are long and slender, and sometimes of a curved shape. 
Those of this sort which we consecrate to the worship of the 
gods are called " chydaei " 44 by the Jews, a nation remarkable 
for the contempt which they manifest of the divinities. Those 
found all over Thebais and Arabia are dry and small, with a 
shrivelled body : being parched up and scorched by the con- 
stant heat, they are covered with what more nearly resembles 
a shell 45 than a skin. In ^Ethiopia the date is quite brittle 
even, so great is the driness of the climate ; hence the people 
are able to knead it into a kind of bread, just like so much 

41 Athenseus, B. xiv. c. 22, tells us that these dates were thus called 
from Nicolaus of Damascus, a Peripatetic philosopher, who, when visiting' 
Rome with Herod the Great, made Augustus a present of the finest fruit 
of the palm-tree that could be procured. This fruit retained its name of 
" Nicolaan," down to the middle ages. 

42 Pliny would imply that they are so called from the Greek adi\<pia, 
" a sister," as being of sister quality to the caryotse ; but it is much more 
probable, as Fee remarks, that they got this name from being attached in 
pairs to the same pedicle or stalk. 

43 Pliny certainly seems to imply that they are so called from the Greek 
TrctTtio, " to tread under foot," and Hardouin is of that opinion. Fee, 
however, thinks the name is from the Hebrew or Syriac " patach," " to ex- 
pand," or " open," or else from the Hebrew " pathah," the name of the first 
vowel, from some fancied resemblance in the form. 

44 From the Greek xvdaiog, " vulgar," or "common," it is supposed. The 
Jews probably called them so, ns being common, or offered by the Gentiles 
to their idols and divinities. Pliny evidently considers that in the name 
given to them no compliment was intended to the deities of the heathen 

45 From its extreme driness, and its shrivelled appearance. 

Chap. 9.] DATES. \7~ 

flour. 46 It grows upon a shrub, with branches a cubit in 
length : it has a broad leaf, and the fruit is round, and larger 
than an apple. The name of this date is " co'ix." 47 It conies 
to maturity in three years, and there is always fruit to be 
found upon the shrub, in various stages of maturity. The 
date of Thebais is at once packed in casks, with all its natu- 
ral heat and freshness ; for without this precaution, it quickly 
becomes vapid ; it is of a poor, sickly taste, too, if it is not 
exposed, before it is eaten, to the heat of an oven. 

The other kinds of dates appear to be of an ordinary nature, 
and are generally known as "tragemata ;" 48 but in some parts of 
Phoenicia and Cilicia, they are commonly called " balani," a 
name which has been also borrowed by us. There are nume- 
rous kinds of them, which differ from one another in being 
round or oblong ; as also in colour, for some of them are black, 
and others red — indeed it is said that they present no fewer 
varieties of colour than the fig : the white ones, however, are 
the most esteemed, They differ also in size, according to the 
number which it requires to make a cubit in length ; some, 
indeed, are no larger than a bean. Those are the best adapted 
for keeping which are produced in salt and sandy soils, Judaea, 
and Cyrenaica in Africa, for instance : those, however, of Egypt, 
Cyprus, Syria, and Seleucia in Assyria, will not keep : hence 
it is that they are much used for fattening swine and other 
animals. It is a sign that the fruit is either spoilt or old, 
when the white protuberance disappears, by which it has ad- 
hered to the cluster. Some of the soldiers of Alexander's army 
were choked by eating green dates ; 49 and a similar effect is 
produced in the country of the Gedrosi, by the natural quality 
of the fruit ; while in other places, again, the same results arise 
from eating them to excess. Indeed, when in a fresh state, they 
are so remarkably luscious, that there would be no end to 

46 From Theophrastus, B. i. c. 16. 

47 Kvkojq in the Greek. It is supposed by Sprengel to be the same as 
the Cycas circimialis of Linngeus ; but, as Fee remarks, that is only found in 

48 From the Greek, meaning "sweetmeats," or " dessert fruit :" he pro- 
bably means that in S) 7 ria and some parts of Phoenicia they were thus called. 

49 This story, which is- borrowed from Theophrastus, B. iv. c. 5, is 
doubted by Fee, who says that in the green state they are so hard and 
nauseous, that it is next to impossible to eat sufficient to be materially in- 
commoded by them. 

VOL. in. N 

178 pliny's natural iiistohy. [Book XIII. 

eating them, were it not for fear of the dangerous consequences 
that would be sure to ensue. 


In addition to the palm, Syria has several trees that are pe- 
culiar to itself. Among the nut-trees there is the pistacia/ 
well known among us. It is said that, taken either m food or 
drink the kernel of this nut is a specific against the bite ot 
serpents. Among figs, too, there are those known as ca- 
ricse" 51 together with some smaller ones of a similar kind 
the name of which is " cottana." There is a plum, too, which 
grows upon Mount Damascus, 53 as also that known as the 
"mvxa-" 53 these last two are, however, now naturalized m 
Italy. In Egypt, too, they make a kind of wine from the myxa. 


Phoenicia too, produces a small cedar, which bears a strong 
resemblance' to the juniper.^ Of this tree there _ are two 
varieties ; the one found in Lycia, the other m Phoenicia. 5 ' The 
difference is in the leaf: the one m which it is hard sharp, 
and prickly, being known as the oxycedros, 56 a branchy tree 
and rugged with knots. The other kind is more esteemed for 
its powerful odour. The small cedar produces a fruit the size 
of a grain of myrrh, and of a sweetish taste. There are two 
kinds of the larger cedar 57 also; the one that blossoms bears 

so The Pistacia vera of Linnseus. It was introduced into Rome in the 
reio-n of Tiberius. The kernel is of no use whatever m a medical point of 
viei and what Pliny says about its curing the bite of serpents is per- 
fectly fabubus The ucar . ca)) ^ ly the u Car ^, fi ft 
-Ficuscarii? is, however, the name given to the common fig by the 

modern botanists. o ^ io 

■ The parent of our Damascenes, or damsons. See B xv^ c Id. 

53 Supposed to be the Corda myxa of Linnaeus. See B. xv. c 15. 

54 The Juninerus communis of Linnaeus. 

55 The Jun perns Lycia, and the Juniperus Phoenicia, probably, of Lin- 
1 Tt has been supposed by some, that it is these trees that produce 

TLnLcense of AS, but/as Fee observes, the subject is enveloped 

^^Tle^sto^aTea 7 " cedar. The Juniperus oxycedrus of Linens. 
The «SS" of Linmeus. The name "cedrus" was given by 
/ *« «Trmlv to the cedar of Lebanon, but to many others of the 

£K£ S^dltpSuculady to several varieties of the, 

Chap. 13,] THE SUMACH-TEEE. 1/9 

no fruit, while, on the other hand, the one that bears fruit has 
no blossom, and the fruit, as it falls, is being continually replaced 
by fresh. The seed of this tree is similar to that of the cy- 
press. Some persons give this tree the name of " cedrelates." 
The resin produced from it is very highly praised, and the 
wood of it lasts for ever, for which reason it is that they have 
long been in the habit of using it for making the statues of the 
gods. In a temple at Rome there is a statue of Apollo Sosi- 
anus 58 in cedar, originally brought from Seleucia. There is a 
tree similar to the cedar, found also in Arcadia ; and there is 
a shrub that grows in Phrygia, known as the " cedrus." 

CHAP. 12. (6.) THE TEKEBINTH. 59 

Syria, too, produces the terebinth, the male tree of which 
bears no fruit, and the female consists of two different va- 
rieties ; 60 one of these bears a red fruit, the size of a lentil, 
while the other is pale, and ripens at the same period as 
the grape. This fruit is not larger than a bean, is of a very 
agreeable smell, and sticky and resinous to the touch. About 
Ida in Troas, and in Macedonia, this tree is short and shrubby, 
but at Damascus, in Syria, it is found of very considerable size. 
Its wood is remarkably flexible, and continues sound to a very 
advanced age : it is black and shining. The blossoms appear 
in clusters, like those of the olive-tree, but are of a red colour ; 
the leaves are dense, and closely packed. It produces foili- 
cules, too, from which issue certain insects like gnats, as also a 
kind of resinous liquid 61 which oozes from the bark. 


The male sumach-tree 62 of Syria is productive, but the 
female is barren. The leaf resembles that of the elm, though 
it is a little longer, and has a downy surface. ^ The footstalks 
of the leaves lie always alternately in opposite directions, and 

5S See B. xxxvi. c. 4. 

59 Pistacia terebinttms of Linnaras. 

60 These varieties, Fee says, are not observed by modern naturalists. 

01 Garidel has remarked, that the trunk of this tree produces coriaceous 
vesicles, filled with a clear and odoriferous terebinthine, in which pucerons, 
or aphides, are to be seen floating. 

62 "Rhus." The Rhus coriaria of Linnaeus. Pliny is wrong in distin- 
guishing this tree into sexes, as all the flowers are hermaphroditical, and 
therefore fruitful. 

N 2 


the branches are short and slender. This tree is nsed in the 
preparation of white skins. 63 The seed, which strongly re- 
sembles a lentil in appearance, turns red with the grape ; it 
is known by the name of "ros," and forms a necessary in- 
gredient in various medicaments. 6 * 



Egypt, too, has many trees which are not to be found else- 
where, and the kind of fig more particularly, which for this 
reason has been called the Egyptian fig. 65 In leaf this tree 
resembles the mulberry-tree, as also in size and general appear- 
ance. It bears fruit, not upon branches, but upon the trunk 
itself : the fig is remarkable for its extreme sweetness, and 
has no seeds 66 in it. This tree is also remarkable for its fruit- 
fulness, which, however, can only be ensured by making inci- 
sions 67 in the fruit with hooks of iron, for otherwise it will 
not come to maturity. But when this has been done, it may 
be gathered within four days, immediately upon which another 
shoots up in its place. Hence it is that in the year it produces 
seven abundant crops, and throughout all the summer there is 
an abundance of milky juice in the fruit. Even if the inci- 
sions are not made, the fruit will shoot afresh four times 
during the summer, the new fruit supplanting the old, and 
forcing it off before it has ripened. The wood, which is of a 
very peculiar nature, is reckoned among the most useful 
known. When cut down it is immediately plunged into 
standing water, such being the means employed for drying 68 it. 
At first it sinks to the bottom, after which it begins to float, 
and in a certain length of time the additional moisture sucks 
it dry, which has the effect of penetrating and soaking all 69 

63 It is still used by curriers in preparing leather. 

6i See B. xxiv. c. 79. The fruit, which has a pleasant acidity, was 
used for culinary purposes by the ancients, as it is by the Turks at the 
present day. . . 

65 The Ficus sycamorus of Linnaeus. It receives its name from being 
a h>-tree that bears a considerable resemblance to the " morus," or mul- 
berry-tree. 66 This is not the case. 

6T This appears to be doubtful, although, as Fee says, the fruit ripens 
but very slowly. 

68 This, Fee says, is a fallacy 

es» » Aliam omnem." This reading seems to be very doubtful/, 

Chap. 16.] THE CAEOB-TEEE. 1 Si 

other kinds of wood. It is a sign that it is fit for use 70 when 
it begins to float. 


The fig-tree that grows in Crete, and is known there as the 
Cyprian fig, 71 bears some resemblance to the preceding one ; for 
it bears fruit upon the trunk of the tree, and upon the branches 
as well, when they have attained a certain degree of thickness. 
This tree, however, sends forth buds without any leaves, 72 but 
similar in appearance to a root. The trunk of the tree is 
similar to that of the poplar, and the leaves to those of the elm. 
It produces four crops in the year, and germinates the same 
number of times, but its green 73 fruit will not ripen unless an 
incision is made in it to let out the milky juice. The sweet- 
ness of the fruit and the appearance of the inside are in all 
respects similar to those of the fig, and in size it is about as 
large as a sorb-apple. 


Similar to this is the carob-tree, by the Ionians known as 
the " ceraunia," 74 which in a similar manner bears fruit from 
the trunk, this fruit being known by the name of " siliqua," 
or " pod." For this reason, committing a manifest error, 
some persons 75 have called it the Egyptian fig; it being the 
fact that this tree does not grow in Egypt, but in Syria and 
Ionia, in the vicinity, too, of Cnidos, and in the island of 
Ehodes. It is always covered with leaves, and bears a white 
flower with a very powerful odour. It sends forth shoots at 

70 This wood was very extensively used in Egypt for making the outer 
cases, or coffins, in which the mummies were enclosed. 

71 This account is borrowed almost entirely from Theophrastus, Hist. 
Plant. B. iv. c. 2. A variety of the sycamore is probably meant. It is 
still found in the Isle of Crete. 

72 He seems to mean that the buds do not shoot forth into leaves ; the 
reading, however, varies in the editions, and is extremely doubtful. 

7:1 Grossus. 

74 The Ceratonia siliqua of Linnaeus. It is of the same size as the sy- 
camore, but resembles it in no other respect. It is still common in the 
localities mentioned by Pliny, and in the south of Spain. 

75 Theophrastus in the number, Hist. Plant, i. 23, and iv. 2. It bears 
no resemblance to the fig-tree, and the fruit is totally different from the 
fig. Pliny, too, is wrong in saying that it does not grow in Egypt ; the 
fact being that it is found there in great abundance. 

182 pliny's natural history. [Book XIII. 

the lower part, and is consequently quite yellow on the sur- 
face, as the young suckers deprive the trunk of the requisite 
moisture. When the fruit of the preceding year is gathered, 
about the rising of the Dog-star, fresh fruit immediately makes 
its appearance ; after which the tree blossoms while the con- 
stellation of Arc turus 76 is above the horizon, and the winter 
imparts nourishment to the fruit. 



Egypt, too, produces another tree of a peculiar description, 
the Persian 77 tree, similar in appearance to the pear-tree, but 
retaining its leaves during the winter. This tree produces 
without intermission, for if the fruit is pulled to-day, fresh 
fruit will make its appearance to-morrow : the time for ripen- 
ing is while the Etesian 78 winds prevail. The fruit of this 
tree is more oblong than a pear, but is enclosed in a shell and 
a rind of a grassy colour, like the almond ; but what is found 
within, instead of being a nut as in the almond, is a plum, 
differing from the almond 79 in being shorter and quite soft. This 
fruit, although particularly inviting for its luscious sweetness, 
is productive of no injurious effects. The wood, for its good- 
ness, solidity, and blackness, is in no respect inferior to that 
of the lotus : people have been in the habit of making statues 
of it. The wood of the tree which we have mentioned as 
the "balanus," 80 although very durable, is not so highly es- 
teemed as this, as it is knotted and twisted in the greater 
part : hence it is only employed for the purposes of ship- 

76 See B. xviii. c. 74. 

77 Fee identifies it with the Egyptian almond, mentioned by Pliny in 
B. xv. c. 28; the Myrobalanus chebulus of Wesling, the Balanites 
iEgyptiaca of Delille, and the Xymenia iEgyptiaca of Linnaeus. Schreber 
and Sprcngel take it to be the Cordia Sebestana of Linnaeus ; but that is a 
tree peculiar to the Antilles. The fruit is in shape like a date, enclosing a 
large stone with five sides, and covered with a little viscous flesh, of some- 
what bitter, though not disagreeable flavour. It is found in the vicinity 
of Sennaar, and near the Red Sea. The Arabs call it the " date of the 

78 See B. xviii. c. 68. " See B. xv. c. 34. 
M Or ben. See B. xii. cc. 46, 47. 

Chap. 19.] THE EGYPTIAN THOEN. 183 


On the other hand, the wood of the cucus 81 is held in very 
high esteem. It is similar in nature to the palm, as its leaves 
are similarly used for the purposes of texture : it differs from 
it, however, in spreading out its arms in large branches.^ The 
fruit, which is of a size large enough to fill the hand, k of a 
tawny colour, and recommends itself by its juice, which is a 
mixture of sweet and rough. The seed in the inside is large 
and of remarkable hardness, and turners use it for making 
curtain rings. 82 The kernel is sweet, while fresh ; but when 
dried it becomes hard to a most remarkable degree, so much 
so, that it can only be eaten after being soaked in water for 
several days. The wood is beautifully mottled with circling 
veins, 83 for which reason it is particularly esteemed among the 


]S T o less esteemed, too, in the same country, is a certain kind 
of thorn, 84 though only the black variety, its wood being im- 
perishable, in water even, a quality which renders it particu- 
larly valuable for making the sides of ships : on the other hand, 
the white kinds will rot very rapidly. It has sharp, prickly 
thorns on the leaves even, and bears its seeds in pods ; they 
are employed for the same purposes as galls in the preparation 
of leather. The flower, too, has a pretty effect when made 
into garlands, and is extremely useful in medicinal preparations. 
A gum, also, distils from this tree ; but the principal merit 
that it possesses is, that when it is cut down, ^ it will grow 
ao-ain within three years. It grows in the vicinity of Thebes, 
Adhere we also find the quercus, the Persian tree, and the olive : 
the spot that produces it is a piece of woodland, distant three 

« Many have taken this to he the cocoa-nut tree ; -but, as Fee remarks, 
that is a ti-ee of India, and this of Egypt. There is little doubt that it is 
the doum of the Arabs, the Cucifera Thebaica of Delille. The timber of 
the trunk is much used in Egypt, and of the leaves carpets, bags, and 
panniers are made. In fact, the description of it and its fruit is almost 
identical with that here given by Pliny. 

82 The seed or stone of the doum is still used in Egypt for making the 
beads of chaplets : it admits of a very high polish. 

83 Matcries crispioris elegantiae. 

s4 See B. xxiv. c. 67. This is, no doubt, the Acacia Nilotica of Linnaeus, 
which produces the gum Arabic of modern commerce. 

184 pliny's natueal HISTOEY. [Book XIII. 

hundred stadia from the Kile, and watered by springs of its 

(10.) Here we find, too, the Egyptian 85 plum-tree, not much 
unlike the thorn last mentioned, with a fruit similar to the 
medlar, and which ripens in the winter. This tree never loses 
its leaves. The seed in the fruit is of considerable size, but 
the. flesh of it, by reason of its quality, and the great abund- 
ance in which it grows, affords quite a harvest to the inhabit- 
ants of those parts ; after cleaning it, they subject it to pressure, 
and then make it up into cakes for keeping. There was for- 
merly 86 a woodland district in the vicinity of Memphis, with 
trees of such enormous size, that three men could not span 
one with their arms : one of these trees is remarkable, not for 
its fruit, or any particular use that it is. but for the singular 
phenomenon that it presents. In appearance it strongly re- 
sembles a thorn, 87 and it has leaves which have all the appear- 
ance of wings, and which fall immediately the branch is 
touched by any one, and then immediately shoot again. 


It is universally agreed, that the best gum is that produced 
from the Egyptian thorn ; 8B it is of variegated appearance, of 
azure colour, clean, free from all admixture of bark, and 
adheres to the teeth ; the price at which it sells is three 
denarii per pound. That produced from the bitter almond- 

85 This is from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. iv. c. 3. Fee suggests 
that it may have been a kind of myrobalanus. Sprengel identifies it with 
the Cordia sebestana of the botanists. 

86 « F u it." From the use of this word he seems uncertain as to its ex- 
istence in his time ; the account is copied from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. 
B. iv. c. 3. Fee suggests that he may here allude to the Baobab, the 
Adansonia digitata, which grows in Senegal and Sennaar to an enormous 
size. Prosper Alpinus speaks of it as existing in Egypt. The Arabs call 
it El-omarah, and the fruit El-kongles. 

87 The Mimosa polyacanthe, probably. Fee says that the mimosa?, re- 
spectively known as casta, pudibunda, viva, and sensitiva, with many of 
the inga, and other leguminous trees, are irritable in the highest degree. 
The tree here spoken of he considers to be one of the acacias. The pas- 
sage in Theophrastus speaks of the leaf as shrinking, and not falling, 
and then as simply reviving. 

58 The Acacia Nilotica of Linnaeus, from which we derive the gum 
Arabic of commerce ; and of which a considerable portion is still derived 
from Egypt. 

Chap. 21.] 


tree and the cherry 89 is of an inferior kind, and that which is 
gathered from the plum-tree is the worst of all. The vine, 
too, produces a gum, 60 which is of the greatest utility in healing 
the sores of children ; while that which is sometimes found on 
the olive-tree 91 is used for the tooth-ache. Gum is also found 
on the elm 93 upon Mount Corycus in Cilicia, and upon the 
juniper, 93 but it is good for nothing ; indeed, the gum of the 
elm found there is apt to breed gnats. From the sarcocolla 94 
also—such is the name of a certain tree— a gum exudes that is 
remarkably useful to painters 95 and medical men ; it is similar 
to incense dust in appearance, and for those purposes the white 
kind is preferable to the red. The price of it is the same as 
that mentioned above. 96 



We have not as yet taken any notice of the marsh plants, 
nor yet of the shrubs that grow upon the banks of rivers : 
before quitting Egypt, however, we must make some mention 
of the nature of the papyrus, seeing that all the usages of 
civilized life depend in such a remarkable degree upon the 
employment of paper — at all events, the remembrance of past 
events. M. Yarro informs us that paper owes its discovery to 

89 These gums are chemically different from gum Arabic, and they are 
used for different purposes in the arts. m _ 

90 The vine does not produce a gum ; but when the sap ascends, a juice 
is secreted, which sometimes becomes solid on the evaporation of the 
aqueous particles. This substance contains acetate of potassa, which, by 
the decomposition of that salt, becomes a carbonate of the same base. 

91 This is not a gum, but a resinous product of a peculiar nature. It is 
known to the moderns by the name of " olivine." 

92 The sap of the elm leaves a saline deposit on the bark, principally 
formed of carbonate of potassa. Fee is at a loss to- know whether Pliny 
here alludes to this or to the manna which is incidentally formed by certain 
insects on some trees and reeds. But, as he justly says, would Pliny say 
of the latter that it is " ad nihil utile"—" good for nothing "? 

9 * A resinous product, no doubt. The frankincense of Africa has been 
attributed by some to the Juniperus Lycia and Phoenicia. 

94 The Penaea Sarcocolla of Linnaeus. The gum resin of this tree is 
still brought from Abyssinia, but it is not used in medicine. This account 
is from Dioscorides, B. iii. c. 99. The name is from the Greek cdpK, 
"flesh," and icoXXa, "glue." 

95 See B. xxiv. e. 78. % Three denarii per pound. 

185 pliny's natural history. [EookXIII. 

the victorious 97 career of Alexander the Great, at the time 
when Alexandria in Egypt was founded by him ; before which 
period paper had not been used, the leaves of the palm having 
been employed for writing at an early period, and after that 
the bark of certain trees. In succeeding ages, public docu- 
ments were inscribed on sheets of lead, while private memo- 
randa were impressed upon linen cloths, or else engraved on 
tablets of wax ; indeed, we find it stated in Homer, 98 that tablets 
were employed for this purpose even before the time of the 
Trojan war. It is generally supposed, too, that the country 
which that poet speaks of as Egypt, was not the same that is 
at present understood by that name, for the Sebennytic and 
the Sait] c " Nomes, in which all the papvrus is produced, have 
been added since his time by the alluvion of the Nile ; indeed, 
he himself has stated 1 that the main -land was a day and a 
night's sail from the island of Pharos 2 , which island at the 
present day is united by a bridge to the city of Alexandria. In 
later times, a rivalry having sprung up between King Ptolemy 
and King Eumenes, 3 in reference to their respective libraries, 
Ptolemy prohibited the export of papyrus; upon which, as Varro 
relates, parchment was invented for a similar purpose at 
Pergamus. After this, the use of that commodity, by which 
immortality is ensured to man, became universally known. 


Papyrus grows either in the marshes of Egypt, or in the 
sluggish waters of the river Mle, when they have overflowed 
and are lying stagnant, in pools that do not exceed a couple of 
cubits in depth. The root lies obliquely, 4 and is about the 

97 It is hardly necessary to state that this is not the fact. This plant is 
the Cyperus papyrus of Linnaeus, the "herd" of the modern Egyptians. 

> 8 II. B vi. 1. 168. See B. xxxiii. c. 4, where the tablets which are 
here called " pugillares," are styled "codicilli" by Pliny. 

99 His argument is, that paper made from the papyrus could not be 
known in the time of Homer, as that plant only grew in certain districts 
which had been rescued fiom the sea since the time of the poet. 

1 Od. B. ir. 1. 355. 2 See B i{ 0< 87# 

3 There is little doubt that parchment was really known many years 
before the time of Eumenes II., king of Pontus. It is most probable that 
this king introduced extensive improvements in the manufacture of parch- 
ment, for Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time ; and 
in B. v. c. 58, he states that the Ionians had been accustomed to give the 
name of skins, ditiQepai, to books. 

4 Brachiali radicis obliques crassitudine. 


thickness of one's arm ; the section of the stalk is triangular, 
and it tapers gracefully upwards towards the extremity, 
being not more than ten cubits at most in height. Very much 
like a thyrsus 5 in shape, it has a head on the top, which has 
no seed 6 * in it, and, indeed, is of no use whatever, except as a 
flower employed to crown the statues of the gods. The 
natives use the roots by way of wood, not only for firing, but 
for various other domestic purposes as well. From the papy- 
rus itself they construct boats 6 also, and of the outer coat they 
make sails and mats, as well as cloths, besides coverlets and 
ropes ; they chew it also, both raw and boiled, though they 
swallow the juice only. 

The papyrus grows in Syria also, on the borders of the same 
lake around which grows the sweet-scented calamus; 7 and 
King Antiochus used to employ the productions of that country 
solely as cordage for naval purposes; for the use of spartum 8 
had not then become commonly known. More recently it has 
been understood that a papyrus grows in the river Euphrates, 
in the vicinity of Babylon, from which a similar kind of paper 
may easily be produced : still, however, up to the present time 
the Parthians have preferred to impress 9 their characters upon 


Paper is made from the papyrus, by splitting it with a 

5 This was a pole represented as being carried by Bacchus and his Bac- 
chanalian train. It was mostly terminated by the fir cone, that tree being 
dedicated to Bacchus, in consequence of the use of its cones and turpentine 
in making wine. Sometimes it is surmounted by vine or fig leaves, with 
grapes or berries arranged in form of a cone. 

5 * This is not the fact : it has seed in it, though not very easily percep- 
tible. The description here given is otherwise very correct. 

6 Among the ancients the term papyrus was used as a general appellation 
for all the different plants of the genus Cyperus, which was used for making 
mats,' boats, baskets, and numerous other articles: but one species only 
was employed for making paper, the Cyperus papyrus, or Byblos Fee 
states that the papyrus is no longer to be found in the Delta, where it for- 
merly abounded. ' 7 See B. xii. c. 48. 

8 Sometimes translated hemp. A description will be given of it in B. 
xix. c. 7. 

9 " Intexere." This would almost appear to mean that they embroidered 
or interwove the characters. The Persians still write on a stuff made of 
white silk, gummed and duly prepared for the purpose. 


needle into very thin leaves, due care being taken that they 
should be as broad as possible. That of the first quality is 
taken from the centre of the plant, and so in regular succession, 
according to the order of division. " Hieratica" 10 was the name 
that was anciently given to it, from the circumstance that it 
was entirely reserved for the religious books. In later times, 
through a spirit of adulation, it received the name of " Au- 
gusta," Just as that of second quality was called " Liviana," 
from his wife, Livia ; the consequence of which was, that the 
name " hieratica" came to designate that of only third-rate 
quality. The paper of the next quality was called " amphi- 
theatrica," from the locality 11 of its manufacture. The skilful 
manufactory that was established by Fannius 12 at Rome, was in 
the habit of receiving this last kind, and there, by a very 
careful process of insertion, it was rendered much finer ; so 
much so, that from being a common sort, he made it a paper of 
first-rate quality, and gave his own 13 name to it: while that 
which was not subjected to this additional process retained 
its_ original name of " amphitheatrica." Next to this is the 
Saitic paper, so called from the city of that name, u where 
it is manufactured in very large quantities, though of cuttings 
of inferior 15 quality. The Taeniotic paper, so called from a 
place in the vicinity, 16 is manufactured from the materials that 
lie nearer to the outside skin ; it is sold, riot according to its 
quality, but by weight only. As to the paper that is known 

10 Or " holy " paper. The priests would not allow it to be sold, lest it 
might be used for profane writing ; but after it was once written upon, it 
was easily procurable. The Romans were in the habit of purchasing it 
largely in the latter state, and then washing off the writing, and using it 
as paper of the finest quality. Hence it received the name of "Augustus," 
as representing _ in Latin its Greek name " hieraticus," or "sacred." In 
length of time it became the common impression, as here mentioned, that 
this name was given to it in honour of Augustus Caesar. 

11 Near the amphitheatre, probably, of Alexandria. 

12 He alludes to Q,. Remmius Fannius Palaemon, a famous grammarian 
of Rome, though originally a slave. Being manumitted, he opened a school 
at Rome, which was resorted to by great numbers of pupils, notwithstand- 
ing his notoriously bad character. He appears to have established, also, 
a manufactory for paper at Rome. Suetonius, in his treatise on Illustrious 
Grammarians, gives a long account of him. He is supposed to have been 
the preceptor of Quintilian. 

13 Fanniana. " In Lower Egypt. 

15 Ex vilioribus ramentis. 1G Of Alexandria, probably. 

Chap. 24.] MODE OF TESTING PAPER. 189 

as "emporetica," 17 it is quite useless for writing upon, and is 
only employed for wrapping up other paper, and as a covering 
for various articles of merchandize, whence its name, as being 
used by dealers. After this comes the bark of the papyrus, 
the outer skin of which bears a strong resemblance to the 
bulrush, and is solely used for making ropes, and then only 
for those which have to go into the water. 18 

All these various kinds of paper are made upon a table, 
moistened with Nile water ; a liquid which, when in a 
muddy state, has the peculiar qualities of glue. 19 This table 
being first inclined, 20 the leaves of papyrus are laid upon it 
lengthwise, as long, indeed, as the papyrus will admit of, the 
jagged edges being cut off at either end ; after which a cross 
layer is placed over it, the same way, in fact, that hurdles are 
made. "When this is done, the leaves are pressed close together, 
and then dried in the sun ; after which they are united to one 
another, the best sheets being always taken first, and the infe- 
rior ones added afterwards. There are never more than 
twenty of these sheets to a roll. 21 


There is a great difference in the breadth of the various 
kinds of paper. That of best quality 23 is thirteen fingers wide, 
while the hieratica is two fingers less. The Eanniana is ten 
fingers wide, and that known as " amphitheatrica," one less. 
The Saitic is of still smaller breadth, indeed it is not so 
wide as the mallet with which the paper is beaten ; and the 
emporetica is particularly narrow, being not more than six 
fingers in breadth. 

In addition to the above particulars, paper is esteemed 
according to its fineness, its stoutness, its whiteness, and its 
smoothness. Claudius Csesar effected a change in that which 

17 "Shop-paper," or "paper of commerce." 

18 Otherwise, probably, the rope would not long hold together. 

19 Fee remarks, that this is by no means the fact. With M. Poiret, he 
questions the accuracy of Pliny's account of preparing the papyrus, and is 
of opinion that it refers more probably to the treatment of some other 
vegetable substance from which paper was made. 

20 Primo supina tabulae scheda. 

21 "Scapus." This was, properly, the cylinder on which the paper was 

22 Augustan. 


till then had been looked upon as being of the first quality : 
for the Augustan paper had been found to be so remarkably 
fine, as to offer no resistance to the pressure of the pen ; in 
addition to which, as it allowed the writing upon it to run 
through, it was continually causing apprehensions of its being 
blotted and blurred by the writing on the other side ; the re- 
markable transparency, too, of the paper was very unsightly to 
the eye. To obviate these inconveniences, a groundwork of 
paper was made with leaves of the second quality, over which 
was laid a woof, as it were, formed of leaves of the first. He 
increased the width also of paper ; the width [of the common 
sort] being made afoot, and that of the size known as " macro- 
collum," 23 a cubit ; though one inconvenience was soon detected 
in it, for, upon a single leaf 24 being torn in the press, more 
pages were apt to be spoilt than before. 25 In consequence of 
the advantages above-mentioned, the Claudian has come to be 
preferred to all other kinds of paper, though the Augustan is 
still used for the purposes of epistolary correspondence. The 
Livian, which had nothing in common with that of first quality, 
but was entirely of a secondary rank, still holds its former 


The roughness and inequalities in paper are smoothed down 
with a tooth 26 or shell ; but the writing in such places is very 
apt to fade. "When it is thus polished the paper does not take 
the ink so readily, but is of a more lustrous and shining surface. 
The water of the Nile that has been originally employed in 
its manufacture, being sometimes used without due precaution, 
will unfit the paper for taking writing : this fault, however, 
may be detected by a blow with the mallet, or even by 
the smell, 27 when the carelessness has been extreme. These 

23 Or "long glued" paper: the breadth probably consisted of tbat of 
two or more sheets glued or pasted at the edges, the seam running down 
the roll. 

24 Scheda. One of the leaves of the papyrus, of which the roll of 
twenty, joined side by side, was formed. 

25 This passage is difficult to be understood, and various attempts have 
been made to explain it. It is not unlikely that his meaning is that the 
breadth being doubled, the tearing of one leaf or half breadth entailed of 
necessity the spoiling of another, making the corresponding half breadth. 

20 He perhaps means a portion of an elephant's tusk. 
37 Meaning a damp, musty smell. 

Chap. 27.] THE BOOKS OF JHTHA. 191 

spots, too, may be detected by the eye ; but the streaks that 
run down the middle of the leaves where they have been 
pasted together, though they render the paper spongy and of 
a soaking nature, can hardly ever be detected before the ink 
runs, while the pen is forming the letters ; so many are the 
openings for fraud to be put in practice. The consequence is, 
that another labour has been added to the due preparation 
of paper. 


The common paper paste is made of the finest flour of wheat 
mixed with boiling water, and some small drops of vinegar 
sprinkled in it : for the ordinary workman's paste, or gum, 
if employed for this purpose, will render the paper brittle. 
Those, however, who take the greatest pains, boil the crumb 
of leavened bread, and then strain off the water : by the 
adoption of this method the paper has the fewest seams caused 
by the paste that lies between, and is softer than the nap of 
linen even. All kinds of paste that are used for this purpose, 
ought not to be older or newer than one day. The paper is 
then thinned out with a mallet, after which a new layer of 
paste is placed upon it ; then the creases which have formed 
are again pressed out, and it then undergoes the same process 
with the mallet as before. It is thus that we have memorials 
preserved in the ancient handwriting of Tiberius and Caius 
Gracchus, which I have seen in the possession of Pomponius 
Secundus, 28 the poet, a very illustrious citizen, almost two 
hundred years since those characters were penned. As for the 
handwriting of Cicero, Augustus, and Virgil, we frequently 
see them at the present day. 


There are some facts of considerable importance which make 
against the opinion expressed by M. Varro, relative to tho 
invention of paper. Cassius Hemina, a writer of very great 
antiquity, has stated in the Fourth Book of his Annals, that 
Cneius Terentius, the scribe, while engaged in digging on his 

2S See B. vii. c. 18, and B. xiv. c. 6. Also the Life of Pliny, in the 
Introduction to Vol. i. p. vii. 

192 FLINT'S natural history. [Book XIII. 

land, in the Janiculum, came to a coffer, in which Nunia had 
been buried, the former king of Rome, and that in this coffer 
were also found some books 23 of his. This took place in the 
consulship of Publius Cornelius Cethegus, the son of Lucius, 
and of M. Basbius Tamphilus, the son of Quintus, the interval 
between whose consulship and the reign of Numa was five 
hundred and thirty-five years. These books were made of 
paper, and, a thing that is more remarkable still, is the fact 
that they lasted so many years buried in the ground. In 
order, therefore, to establish a fact of such singular import- 
ance, I shall here quote the words of Hemina himself — " Some 
persons expressed wonder how these books could have possibly 
lasted so long a time — this was the explanation that Teren- 
tius gave : ' In nearly the middle of the coffer there lay a square 
stone, bound on every side with cords enveloped in wax ; 30 
upon this stone the books had been placed, and it was through 
this precaution, he thought, that they had not rotted. The 
books, too, were carefully covered with citrus leaves, 31 and it 
was through this, in his belief, that they had been protected 
from the attacks of worms.' In these books were written 
certain doctrines relative to the Pythagorean philosophy ; they 
were burnt by Q. Petilius, the prsetor, because they treated 
of philosophical subjects." 32 

Piso, who had formerly been censor, relates the same facts 
in the First Book of his Commentaries, but he states in addition, 
that there were seven books on Pontifical Eights, and seven on 
the Pythagorean philosophy. 33 Tuditanus, in his Fourteenth 
Book, says that they contained the decrees of Numa : Yarro, in 
the Seventh Book of his " Antiquities of Mankind," u states that 
they were twelve in number ; and Antias, in his Second Book, 
says that there were twelve written in Latin, on pontifical 

29 This story, no doubt, deserves to be rejected as totally fabulous, even 
though, we have Hemina's word for it. 

3U See B. xvi. c. 70. 

31 B. xii. c. 7, and B. xiii. e. 31. It was thought that the leaves 
and juices of the cedar and the citrus preserved books and linen from the 
attacks of noxious insects. 

3' 2 And because., as Livy says, their doctrines were inimical to the then 
existing religion. 

33 Val. Maximus says that there were some books written in Latin, on 
the pontifical rights, and others in Greek on philosophical subjects. 

34 Humanas Antiquitates. 

Chap. 28.] THE TREES OF ETHIOPIA. 193 

matters, and as many in Greek, containing philosophical pre- 
cepts. The same author states also in his Third Book why 
it was thought proper to burn them. 

It is a fact acknowledged by all writers, that the Sibyl 35 
brought three books to Tarquinius Superbus, of which two 
were burnt by herself, while the third perished by fire with 
the Capitol 36 in the days of Sylla. In addition to these tacts, 
Mucianus, who was three times consul, has stated that he had 
recently read, while governor of Lycia, a letter written upon 
paper, and preserved in a certain temple there, which had 
been written from Troy, by Sarpedon ; a thing that surprises 
me the more, if it really was the fact that even in the time 
of Homer the country that we call Egypt was not in exist- 
ence. 37 And why too, if paper was then in use, was it the 
custom, as it is very well known it was, to write upon leaden 
tablets and linen cloths ? Why, too, has Homer 38 stated that 
in Lycia tablets 39 were given to Bellerophon to carry, and not 
a paper letter ? 

Papyrus, for making paper, is apt to fail occasionally ; such 
a thing happened in the time of the Emperor Tiberius, when 
there was so great a scarcity 40 of paper that members of the 
senate were appointed to regulate the distribution of it : had 
not this been done, all the ordinary relations of life would 
have been completely disarranged. 


^Ethiopia, which borders upon Egypt, has in general no 
remarkable trees, with the exception of the wool-bearing 41 
ones, of which we have had occasion to speak 42 in our descrip- 
tion of the trees of India and Arabia. However, the produce 

35 See B. xxxiv. c. 11. 36 See B. xxxiii. c. 5. 

37 He implies that it could not have been written upon paper, as the 
papyrus and the districts which produced it were not in existence in the 
time of .Homer. No doubt this so-called letter, if shown at all, was a for- 
gery, a "pia fraus." See c. 21 of the present Book. 

38 II. B. vi. 1. 168. 

39 " Codicillos," as meaning characters written on a surface of wood. 
7riVcr£, as Homer calls it. 

40 It was probably then that the supply of it first began to fail; in the 
sixth century it was still -used, but by the twelfth it had wholly fallen 
into disuse. 

41 The cotton-tree, Gossypium arboreum of Linnaeus. 
« See B. xii. c. 21, 22. 


194 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XIII. 

of the tree of ^Ethiopia bears a much stronger resemblance to 
wool, and the follicule is much larger, being very similar in 
appearance to a pomegranate ; as for the trees, they are other- 
wise similar in every respect. Besides this tree, there are 
some palms, of which we have spoken already. 43 In describing 
the islands along the coast of ^Ethiopia, we have already made 
mention 44 of their trees and their odoriferous forests. 



Mount Atlas is said to possess a forest of trees of a peculiar 
character, 45 of which we have already spoken. 46 In the vicinity 
of this mountain is Mauretania, a country which abounds in 
the citrus, 47 a tree which gave rise to the mania 48 for fine 
tables, an extravagance with which the women reproach the 
men, when they complain of their vast outlay upon pearls. 
There is preserved to the present day a table which belonged 
to M. Cicero, 49 and for which, notwithstanding his compara- 
tively moderate means, and what is even more surprising still, 
at that day too, he gave no less than one 50 million sesterces : 
we find mention made also of one belonging to Gallus Asinius, 
which cost one million one hundred thousand sesterces. Two 
tables were also sold by auction which had belonged to King 
Juba ; the price fetched by one was one million two hundred 
thousand sesterces, and that of the other something less. 
There has been lately destroyed by fire, a table which came 
down from the family of the Cetliegi, and which had been sold 
for the sum of one million four hundred thousand sesterces, 
the price of a considerable domain, if any one, indeed, could be 
found who would give so large a sum for an estate. 

43 In c. 9 of the present Book. 44 See B. vi. c. 36, 37. 

45 Desfontaines observed in the vicinity of Atlas, several trees pecu- 
liar to that district. Among others of this nature, he names the Pistacia 
Atlantica, and the Thuya articulata. 

46 See B. v. c. 1. 

47 Generally supposed to be the Thuya articulata of Desfontaines, the 
Cedrus Atlantica of other botanists. 

48 This rage for fine tables made of the citrus is alluded to, among others, 
by Martial and Petronius Arbiter. See also Lucan, A. ix. B. 426, et. scq. 

49 It is a rather curious fact that it is in Cicero's works that we find 
the earliest mention made of citrus tables, 2nd Oration ag. Verres, s. 4 : — 
" You deprived Q. Lutatius Diodorus of Lilybaeum of a citrus table of re- 
markable age and beauty." ^ Somewhere about £9000. 

Chap. 30.] CITRUS T1BLES. 195 

The largest table that has ever yet been known was one 
that belonged to PtolemaBus, king of Mauretania ; it was made 
of two semicircumferences joined together down the middle, 
being four feet and a half in diameter, and a quarter of a foot 
in thickness : the most wonderful fact, however, connected 
with it, was the surprising skill with which the joining had 
been concealed, 51 and which rendered it more valuable than if 
it had been by nature a single piece of wood. The largest 
table that is made of a single piece of wood, is the one that 
takes its name 52 from Nomius, a freedman of Tiberius Caesar. 
The diameter of it is four feet, short by three quarters of an 
inch, and it is half a foot in thickness, less the same fraction. 
While speaking upon this subject, I ought not to omit to men- 
tion that the Emperor Tiberius had a table that exceeded four 
feet in diameter by two inches and a quarter, and was an inch 
and a half in thickness : this, however, was only covered with 
a veneer of citrus-wood, while that which belonged to his 
freedman Nomius was so costly, the whole material of which 
it was composed being knotted 53 wood. 

These knots are properly a disease or excrescence of the 
root, and those used for this purpose are more particularly 
esteemed which have lain entirely concealed under ground ; 
they are much more rare than those that grow above ground, 
and that are to be found on the branches also. Thus, to speak 
correctly, that which we buy at so vast a price is in reality a 
defect in the tree : of the size and root of it a notion may be 
easily formed from the circular sections of its trunk. The 
tree resembles the wild female cypress 54 in its foliage, smell, 
and the appearance of the trunk. A spot called Mount Anco- 
rarius, in Nearer Mauretania, used formerly to furnish the 
most esteemed citrus-wood, but at the present day the supply 
is quite exhausted. 



The principal merit of these tables is to have veins 55 arranged 

51 This is considered nothing remarkable at the present day, such is the 
skill displayed by our cabinet-makers. 

5 - Called " Nomiana." f Tuber. _ 

5i The European Cyprus, the Cupressus sempervirens of 
65 These veins were nothing in reality but the lines of the layers or 

o 2 


in waving lines, or else forming spirals like so many little 
whirlpools. In the former arrangement the lines run in an 
oblong direction, for which reason these are called " tiger" 56 
tables ; while in the latter the marks are circling and spiral, 
and hence they are styled "panther" 37 tables. There are 
some tables also with wavy, undulating marks, and which are 
more particularly esteemed if these resemble the eyes on a 
peacock's tail. Next in esteem to these last, as well as those 
previously mentioned, is the veined wood, 56 covered, as it were, 
with dense masses of grain, for which reason these tables have 
received the name of " apiatse." 59 But the colour of the wood 
is the quality that is held in the highest esteem of all : that 
of wine mixed with honey 60 being the most prized, theveinsbeing 
peculiarly refulgent. Next to the colour, it is the size that is 
prized ; at the present day whole trunks are greatly admired, 
and sometimes several are united in a single table. 

The peculiar defects in these kinds of tables are woodiness, 61 
such being the name given to the table when the wood is dull, 
common-looking, indistinct, or else has mere simple marks 
upon it, resembling the leaves of the plane-tree ; also, when 
it resembles the veins of the holm-oak or the colour of that 
tree; and, a fault to which it is peculiarly liable from the 
effect of heat or wind, when it has flaws in it or hair-like lines 
resembling flaws ; when it has a black mark, too, running 
through it resembling a murena in appearance, various streaks 
that look like crow scratches, or knots like poppy heads, with a 
colour all over nearly approaching to black, or blotches of a 
sickly hue. The barbarous tribes bury this wood in the 
ground while green, first giving it a coating of wax. When 
it comes into the workmen's hands, they put it for seven days 
beneath a heap of corn, and then take it out for as many 

strata lignea, running perpendicularly iu the trunk, and the number of 
which denotes the age of the tree. 

=6 « Tigrince." 

57 " Pantherinae." The former tables were probably made of small pieces 
from the trunk, the latter from the sections of the tubers or knots. 

ss "Crispis." 

59 Or " parsley-seed " tables. It has also been suggested that the word 
comes from "apis," a bee; the wood presenting the appearance of being 
covered with swarms of bees. 

60 "Mulsum." This mixture will be found frequently mentioned in the 
next Book. 

cl Lignum. 

Chap. 30.] CITRUS TABLES. 197 

more : it is quite surprising how greatly it loses in weight by 
this process. Shipwrecks have recently taught us also that this 
wood is dried by the action of sea-water, and that it thereby 
acquires a hardness 63 and a degree of density which render it 
proof against corruption r no other method is equally sure to 
produce these results. These tables are kept best, and shine 
with the greatest lustre, when rubbed with the dry hand, 
more particularly just after bathing. As if this wood had 
been created for the behoof of wine, it receives no injury 
from it. 

(16.) As this tree is one among the elements of more civil- 
ized life, I think that it is as well on the present occasion to 
dwell a little further upon it. It was known to Homer even, 
and in the Greek it is known by the name of " thyon," 63 or 
sometimes "thya." He says that the wood of this tree was 
among the unguents that were burnt for their pleasant odour 
by Circe, 64 whom he would represent as being a goddess ; a 
circumstance which show r s the great mistake committed by 
those who suppose that perfumes are meant under that name, 64 * 
seeing that in the very same line he says that cedar and larch 
were burnt along with this wood, a thing that clearly proves 
that it is only of different trees that he is speaking. Theo- 
phrastus, an author who wrote in the age succeeding that of 
Alexander the Great, and about the year of the City of Rome 
440, has awarded a very high rank to this tree, stating that it 
is related that the raftering of the ancient temples used to be 
made of this wood, and that the timber, when employed in 
roofs, will last for ever, so to say, being proof against all de- 
cay, — quite incorruptible, in fact. He also says that there is 
nothing more full of wavy veins 65 than the root of this tree, and 
that there is no workmanship in existence more precious than 
that made of this material. The finest kind of citrus grows, 
he says, in the vicinity of the Temple of Jupiter Hammon ; 
he states also that it is produced in the lower part of Cyre- 
naica. He has made no mention, however, of the tables that 
are made of it ; indeed, we have no more ancient accounts of 

62 Fee remarks that this is incorrect, and that this statement betrays an 
entire ignorance of the vegetable physiology. 

66 Qvov, " wood of sacrifice." 

64 Od. B. v. 1. 60. Pliny makes a mistake in saying " Circe ;" it should 
be " Calypso. 

w * ei/o*\ 65 Crispius. 

198 pltny's NATURAL HISTOET. [Book XIII. 

them than those of the time of Cicero, from which it would 
appear that they are a comparatively recent invention. 


There is another tree also which has the same name of 
" citrus," 66 and hears a fruit that is held by some persons in 
particular dislike for its smell and remarkable bitterness ; 
while, on the other hand, there are some who esteem it very 
highly. This tree is used as an ornament to houses ; it re- 
quires, however, no further description. 

CHAP. 32. (17.) THE LOTUS. 

Africa, too, at least that part of it which looks towards 
our shores, produces a remarkable tree, the lotus, 67 by some 
known as the "celtis," which has also been naturalized in Italy, 63 
though it has been somewhat modified by the change of soil. 
The finest quality of lotus is that found in the vicinity of the 
Syrtes and among the Nasamones. It is the same size as the 
pear-tree, although Cornelius Nepos states to the effect that it 
is but short. The leaves have numerous incisions, just as with 
those of the holm-oak. There are many varieties of the lotus, 
which are characterized more particularly by the difference in 
their respective fruits. The fruit is of about the size of a 
bean, and its colour is that of saffron, though before it is ripe 
it is continually changing its tints, like the grape. It has 
branches thickly set with leaves, like the myrtle, and not, 
as with us in Italy, like the cherry. In the country to 
which this tree is indigenous, the fruit of it is so remarkably 
sweet and luscious, that it has even given its name to a whole 
territory, and to a nation 69 who, by their singular hospitality, 
have even seduced strangers who have come among them, to 
lose all remembrance of their native country. It is said also, 
that those who eat this fruit are subject to no maladies of the 
stomach. The fruit which has no stone in the inside is the 
best : this stone in the other kind seems to be of an osseous 
nature. A wine is also extracted from this fruit very similar 

66 He alludes to the citron, the Citrus Medica of Linnaeus. See B. xii. c. 7. 

67 The Rhamnus lotus of Linnaeus ; the Zizyphus lotus of Desfontaines. 

68 The Celtis australis of Linnaeus. Fee remarks that Pliny is in error 
in giving the name of Celtis to the lotus of Africa. 

69 The Lotophagi. See B. v. c. 7. 

Chap. 32.] 


to honied wine ; according to Nepos, however, it will not last 
above ten days ; he states also that the berries are chopped up 
with alica, 70 and then put away in casks for the table. In- 
deed, we read that armies have been fed upon this food whan 
marching to and fro through the territory of Africa. The 
wood is of a black colour, and is held in high esteem for making 
flutes ; from the root also they manufacture handles for knives, 
and various other small articles. 

Such is the nature of the tree that is so called in Africa ; the 
same name being also given to a certain 71 herb, and to a stalk" 
that grows in Egypt belonging to the marsh plants. This last 
plant springs up when the waters of the Nile have retired after 
its overflow : its stalk is similar to that of the bean, and its 
leaves are numerous and grow in thick clusters, but are shorter 
and more slender than those of the bean. The fruit grows on 
the head of the plant, and is similar in appearance to a poppy 
in its indentations 73 and all its other characteristics ; withm 
there are small grains, similar to those of millet. 74 The in- 
habitants lay these heads in large heaps, and there let them 
rot, after which they separate the grain from the residue by 
washing, and then dry it; when this is done they pound it, 
and then use it as flour for making a kind of bread. What is 
stated in addition to these particulars, is a very singular 75 fact ; 
it is said that when the sun sets, these poppy-heads shut and 
cover themselves in the leaves, and at sun-rise they open 
again ; an alternation which continues until the fruit is per- 
fectly ripe, and the flower, which is white, falls off. 

(18.) Even more than this, of the lotus of the Euphrates, 76 
it is said that the head and flower of the plant, at nightfall, 
sink into the water, and there remain till midnight, so deep m 
the water, that on thrusting in one's arm, the head cannot be 
reached : after midnight it commences to return upwards, and 
gradually becomes more and more erect till- sunrise, when it 

w A kind of grain diet. See B. xviii. c. 29, and B. xxii. c. 61. 

« The Melilotus officinalis of Linnaeus. 

72 The Nymphaea Nelumbo of Linnaeus, or Egyptian bean. 

« He speaks of the indentations on the surface of the poppy-head. 

74 See B. xxii. c. 28. ^ 

75 Fee remarks that there is nothing singular about it, the sun more or 
less exercising a similar influence on all plants. 

76 The same as the Nymphaaa Nelumbo of the Nile, according to Uee. 

200 pltnt's natural history. [Book XIII. 

emerges entirely from the water and opens its flower ; after 
which it still continues to rise, until at last it is to be seen 
raised quite aloft, high above the level of the water. This 
lotus has a root about the size of a quince, enveloped in a black 
skin, similar to that with which the chesnut is covered. The 
substance that lies within this skin is white, and forms very 
pleasaut food, but is better cooked, either in water or upon 
hot ashes, then in a raw state. Swine fatten upon nothing 
better than the peelings of this root. 


The region of Cyrenaica places before the lotus its paliurus, 77 
which is more like a shrub in character, and bears a fruit of 
a redder colour. This fruit contains a nut, the kernel of which 
is eaten by itself, and is of a very agreeable flavour. The 
taste of it is improved by wine, and, in fact, the juices are 
thought to be an improvement to wine. The interior of 
Africa, as far as the Garamantes and the deserts, is covered 
with palms, remarkable for their extraordinary size and the 
lusciousness of their fruit. The most celebrated are those in 
the vicinity of the Temple of Jupiter Hammon. 


But the vicinity of Carthage is claimed more particularly as 
its own by the fruit the name of which is the " Punic apple;" 78 
though by some it is called " granatum." 79 This fruit has 
been distinguished into a variety of kinds; the name of 
" apyrenum" 80 being given to the one which has no 81 woody 
seeds inside, but is naturally whiter than the others, the pips 
being of a more agreeable flavour, and the membranes by 
which they are separated not so bitter. Their conformation in 

77 Probably the Phamnus paliurus of Linnseus ; the Spina Christi of 
other botanists. 

78 The pomegranate, the Punica granatum of botanists. 

79 Or "grained apple." 

60 From the Greek ctTrvprjvov, "without kernel." This Fee would not 
translate literally, but as meaning that by cultivation the grains had been 
reduced to a very diminutive size. See B. xxiii. c. 57. 

81 This variety appears to be extinct. Fee doubts if it ever existed. 

w See B. xxiii. c. 57 

Chap. 36.] THE TRAGION. 201 

other respects, which is very similar to the partitions of the 
cells in the honeycomb, is much the same in all. Of those 
that have a kernel there are five kinds, the sweet, the acrid, 
the mixed, the acid, and the vinous : those of Samos and 
Egypt are distinguished into those with red, and those with 
white foliage. 82 The skin, while the fruit is yet sour, is held 
in high esteem for tanning leather. The flower of this tree is 
known by the name of " balaustium," and is very useful for 
medicinal purposes ; 83 also for dyeing cloths a colour which 
from it has derived its name. 85 



In Asia and Greece are produced the following shrubs, the 
epipactis, 86 by some known as " elleborine," the leaves of 
which are of small size, and when taken in drink, are an 
antidote against poison ; just in the same way that those of 
the erica 87 are a specific against the sting of the serpent. 

(21.) Here is also found another shrub, upon which grows 
the grain of Cnidos, 8S by some known as " linum ; " the name 
of the shrub itself being thymelsea, 89 while others, again, call it 
" chamelsea, 90 others pyrosachne, others cnestron, and others 
cneorum ; it bears a strong resemblance to the wild olive, but 
has a narrow leaf, which has a gummy taste in the mouth. 
The shrub is of about the size of the myrtle ; its seed is of the 
same colour and appearance, but is solely used for medicinal 


The island of Crete is the only place that produces the 

82 See B. xxiii. c. 57. 83 See B. xxiii. c. 60. 

85 " Puniceus," namely, a kind of purple. 

86 See B. xxvii. c. 52. Sprengel thinks that this is the Neottia spiralis 
cf Schwartz; but Fee is of opinion that it has not hitherto been identified. 

87 Probably the Erica arborea of Linnaeus, or " heath " in its several 

88 Granum Cnidium. The shrub is the Daphne Cnidium of Linnaeus. 

89 The "thyme-olive.". 

90 The "ground olive," or " small olive." Dioscorides makes a dis- 
tinction between these two last ; and Sprengel has followed it, naming the 
last Daphne Cnidium, and the first Daphne Cneorum. 


shrub called " tragion." 91 It is similar in appearance to the 
terebinth ; 93 a similarity which extends to the seed even, said 
to be remarkably efficacious for healing wounds made by 
arrows. The same island produces tragacanthe 93 also, with a 
root which resembles that of the white thorn ; it is very much 
preferred M to that which is grown in Media or in Achaia ; the 
price at which it sells is three denarii per pound. 



Asia, too, produces the tragos 95 or scorpio, a thorny shrub, 
destitute of leaves, with red clusters upon it that are employed 
in medicine. Italy produces the myrica, which some persons 
cali the "tamarix;" 96 and Achaia, the wild brya, 97 remarkable 
for the circumstance that it is only the cultivated kind that 
bears a fruit, not unlike the gall-nut. In Syria and Egypt 
this plant is very abundant. It is to the trees of this last 
country that we give the name of " unhappy ;" 98 but yet those 
of Greece are more unhappy still, for that country produces the 
tree known as " ostrys," or, as it is sometimes called, "ostrya," " 
a solitary tree that grows about rocks washed by the water, 
and very similar in the bark and branches to the ash. It re- 

31 See B. xxvii. c. 115. 

92 He says elsewhere that it is like the juniper, which, however, is not 
the case. Guettard thinks that the tragion is the Androsremon fetidum, 
the Hyperium hircinum of the modern botanists. Sprengel also adopts 
the same opinion. Fee is inclined to think that it was a variety of the 
Pistacia lentiscus. 

93 Goat's thorn. The Astragalus Creticus of Linnaeus. 

94 He speaks of gum tragacanth. 

95 See B. xxvii. c. 11G. Sprengel identifies it with the Salsola tragus 
of Linnaeus. 

96 Probably the Tamarix Gallica of Linnaeus. Fee says, in relation to 
the myrica, that it would seem that the ancients united in one collective 
name, several plants which resembled each other, not in their botanical 
characteristics, but in outward appearance. To this, he says, is owing 
the fact that Dioscorides calls the myrica a tree, Favorinus a herb ; 
Dioscorides says that it is fruitful, Nicander and Pliny call it barren ; 
Yirgil calls it small, and Theophrastus says that it is large. 

97 Fee thinks that it is the Tamarix onentalis of Delille. 

98 " Infelix," meaning '•' sterile." He seems to say this more particularly 
in reference to the brya, which Egypt produces. As to this use of the word 
"infelix," see B. xvi. c. 46. 

99 Sprengel and Fee identify this with the Ostrya vulgaris of Willdenow, 
the Carpinus ostrya of Linnseus. 

Chap. 39.] THE TREE CALLED EOK. 203 

sembles the pear-tree in its leaves, which, however, are a little 
longer and thicker, with wrinkled indentations running down 
the whole length of the leaf. The seed of this tree resembles 
barley in form and colour. The wood is hard and solid ; it is 
said, that if it is introduced into a house, it is productive of 
painful deliveries and of shocking deaths. 

CHAP. 38. (22.) THE ETJ0NY1I0S. 

There is no tree productive of a more auspicious presage 
than one which grows in the Isle of Lesbos, and is known by 
the name of euonymos. 1 It bears some resemblance to the 
pomegranate tree, the leaf being in size between the leaf of 
that and the leaf of the laurel, while in shape and softness it 
resembles that of the pomegranate tree : it has a white blos- 
som, 2 by which it immediately gives us notice of its dangerous 
properties. 3 It bears a pod 4 very similar to that of sesame, 
within which there is a grain of quadrangular shape, of coarse 
make and poisonous to animals. The leaf, too, has the same 
noxious effects ; sometimes, however, a speedy alvine discharge 
is found to give relief on such occasions. 


Alexander Cornelius has called a tree by the name of 
" eon," 5 with the wood of which, he says, the ship Argo was 
built. This tree has on it a mistletoe similar to that of the 
oak, which is proof against all injury from either fire or water, 

1 Or the " luckily named." It grew on Mount Ordymnus in Lesbos. 
See Theophrastus, B. ii. c. 31. 

2 The Evonymus Europaeus, or else the Evonymus latifolius of bota- 
nists, is probably intended to be indicated ; but it is a mistake to say that 
it is poisonous to animals. On the contrary, Fee says that sheep will 
fatten on its leaves very speedily. 

3 " Statim pestem denuntians." Pliny appears to be in error here. 
In copying from Theophrastus, he seems to have found the word (povoQ 
used, really in reference to a blood-red juice which distils from the plant; 
but as the same word also means slaughter, or death, he seems to have 
thought that it really bears reference to the noxious qualities of the plant. 

4 Fee censures the use of the word " siliqua," as inappropriate, al- 
though the seed does resemble that of sesamum, the Sesamum orientale 
of Linnaeus. 

5 Or eonis. Fee suggests that in this story, which probably belongs 
to the region of Fable, some kind of oak may possibly be alluded to. 


in the same manner, in fact, as that of no other tree known. 
This tree, however, appears to have been known to no other 
author, that I am aware of. 


Nearly all the Greek writers interpret the name of the tree 
called " andrachle," as meaning the same as " purslain : " 7 
whereas purslain is, in reality, a herb, and, with the difference 
of a single letter, is called " andrachne." The andrachle is a 
wild tree, which never grows in the plain country, and is simi- 
lar to the arbute tree in appearance, only that its leaves are 
smaller, and never fall off. The bark, too, is not rough, but 
might be taken. to be frozen all over, so truly wretched is its 


Similar, too, in leaf to the preceding tree, is the coccygia, 3 
though not so large ; it has this peculiarity, that it loses its 
fruit while still in the downy 9 state — they then call it 
" pappus " — a thing that happens to no other tree. The 
apharce 10 is another tree that is similar to the andrachle, and 
like it, bears twice in the year : just as the grape is beginning 
to flower the first fruit is ripening, while the second fruit 
ripens at the commencement of winter; of what nature this 
fruit is we do not find stated. 


We ought to place the ferula 11 also in the number of the 
exotics, and as making one of the trees. For, in fact, we dis- 
tinguish the trees into several different kinds : it is the nature 
of some to have wood entirely in place of bark, or, in other 

6 In the former editions, "adrachne" — the Arbutus integrifolia, Fee 
says, and not the Arbutus andrachne of Linnaeus, as Sprengel thinks. 

7 " Porcillaca." The Portulaca oleracea of Linnaeus. 

8 The Rhus cotinus of Linnaeus, a sort of sumach. 

9 This is not the fact ; the seeds when ripe are merely lost to view in 
the large tufts of down which grow on the stems. 

10 Generally supposed to be the same as the alaternus, mentioned in 
B. xvi. c. 45. Some writers identify it with the Phyllirea angustifolia 
of Linnaeus. 

11 Probably the Ferula communis of Linnaeus, the herb or shrub 
known as " fennel giant." 

Chap. 43.] THE THAr-MA. 205 

■words, on the outside; while, in the interior, in place of wood, 
there is a fungous kind of pith, like that of the elder; 
others, again, are hollow within, like the reed. The ferula 
grows in hot countries and in places beyond sea, the stalk 
being divided into knotted joints. There are two kinds of it : 
that which grows upwards to a great height the Greeks call 
by the name of " narthex," 12 while the other, which never 
rises far from the ground, is known as the " narthecya." 13 
From the joints very large leaves shoot forth, the largest lying 
nearest to the ground : in other respects it has the same na- 
ture as the anise, which it resembles also in its fruit. The 
wood of no shrub is lighter than this ; hence it is very easily 
carried, and the stalks of it make good walking-sticks 14 for 
the aged. 


The seed of the ferula has been by some persons called 
" thapsia;" 15 deceived, no doubt, by what is really the fact, 
that the thapsia is a ferula, but of a peculiar kind, with leaves 
like those of fennel, and a hollow stalk not exceeding a walk- 
ing-stick in length ; the seed is like that of the ferula, and 
the root of the plant is white. When an incision is made in 
the thapsia, a milky juice oozes from it, and, when pounded, 
it produces a kind of juice ; the bark even is never thrown 16 
away. All these parts of the shrub are poisonous, and, in- 
deed, it is productive of injurious effects to those engaged in 
digging it up ; for if the slightest wind should happen to be 
blowing towards them from the shrub, the body begins to 
swell, and erysipelas attacks the face : it is for this reason that, 
before beginning work, they anoint the face all over with a 
solution of wax. Still, however, the medical men say that, 
mixed with other ingredients, it is of considerable use in the 

12 The Ferula glauca of Linnaeus. 

13 The Ferula nodiflora of Linnaeus. 

14 It is still used for that purpose in the south of Europe. The Roman 
schoolmasters, as we learn from Juvenal, Martial, and others, employed it 
for the chastisement of their scholars. Pliny is in error in reckoning it 
among the trees, it really having no pretensions to be considered such. 
It is said to have received its name from " ferio," to " beat." 

u Sprengel thinks that this is the Thapsia asclepium of the moderns ; 
but Fee takes it to be the Thapsia villosa of Linnaeus. 

16 It was valued, Dioscorides says, for its cathartic properties. 

206 plint's natural history. [Book XIII. 

treatment of some diseases. It is employed also for the cure 
of scald-head, and for the removal of black and blue spots 
upon the skin, as if, indeed, we were really at a loss for reme- 
dies in such cases, without having recourse to things of so 
deadly a nature. These plants, however, act their part in 
serving as a pretext for the introduction of noxious agents ; 
and so great is the effrontery now displayed, that people would 
absolutely persuade one that poisons are a requisite adjunct to 
the practice of the medical art. 

The thapsia of Africa 17 is the most powerful of all. Some 
persons make an incision in the stalk at harvest-time, and bore 
holes in the root, too, to let the juice flow; after it has be- 
come quite diy, they take it away. Others, again, pound the 
leaves, stalk, and root in a mortar, and after drying the juice 
in the sun, divide it into lozenges. 18 Nero Caesar, at the be- 
ginning of his reign, conferred considerable celebrity on this 
plant. In his nocturnal skirmishes 19 it so happened that he 
received several contusions on the face, upon which he 
anointed it with a mixture composed of thapsia, frankincense, 
and wax, and so contrived the next day effectually to give the 
lie to all rumours, by appearing with a whole skin. 20 It is a 
well-known fact, that fire 21 is kept alight remarkably well in 
the hollow stalk of the ferula, and that for this purpose those 
of Egypt are the best. 


In Egypt, too, the capparis 22 is found, a shrub with a wood 

17 Either the Thapsia garganica of "Willdenow, or the Thapsia villosa, 
found in Africa and the south of Europe, though, as Pliny says, the 
thapsia of Europe is mild in its effects compared with that of Africa. It 
is common on the coast of Barbary. 

18 Pastillos. 19 Nocturnis grassationihus. 

20 It is still used in Barbary for the cure of tetter and ringworm. 

21 The story was, that Prometheus, when he stole the heavenly fire from 
Jupiter, concealed it in a stalk, of narthex. 

22 The " caper-tree," the Capparis spinosa of Linnams. Fee suggests 
that Pliny may possibly allude, in some of the features which he describes, 
to kinds less known ; such, for instance, as the Capparis inermis of Forsk- 
hal, found in Arabia; the Capparis ovata of Desfoutaines, found in Bar- 
bary ; the Capparis Sinaica, found on Mount Sinai, and remarkable for 
the size of its fruit; and the Capparis iEgyptiaca of Lamarck, commonly 
found in Egypt. 

Chap. 46.] 


of much greater solidity. The seed of it is a well-known 
article of food, 23 and is mostly gathered together with the stalk. 
It is as well, however, to be on our guard against the foreign 
kinds ; 24 for that of Arabia has certain deleterious properties, 
that from Africa is injurious to the gums, and that from 
Marmarica is prejudicial to the womb and causes flatulence 
in all the organs. That of Apulia, too, is productive of vomit- 
ing, and causes derangement in the stomach and intestines. 
Some persons call this shrub " cynosbaton," 25 others, again, 
" ophiostaphyle." 26 


The saripha, 27 too, that grows on the banks of the Kile, is 
one of the shrub genus. It is generally about two cubits in 
height, and of the thickness of one's thumb : it has the foliage 
of the papyrus, and is eaten in a similar manner. The root, 
in consequence of its extreme hardness, is used as a substitute 
for charcoal in forging iron. 


We must take care, also, not to omit a peculiar shrub that 
is planted at Babylon, and only upon a thorny plant there, 
as it will not live anywhere else, just in the same manner as 
the mistletoe will live nowhere but upon trees. This shrub, 
however, will only grow upon a kind of thorn, which is known 
as the royal thorn. 28 It is a wonderful fact, but it germinates 
the very same day that it has been planted. This is done 

23 The stalk and seed were salted or pickled. The buds or unexpanded 
flowers of this shrub are admired as a pickle or sauce of delicate flavour. 

21 Fee remarks that this is not the truth, all the kinds possessing the 
same qualities. There may, however, have been some difference inthe 
mode of salting or pickling them, and possibly productive of noxious 
effects. . 

25 Probably from its thorns, that being the name of the sweet-briar, or 
dog-rose. 26 " Serpent grapes." 

27 Sprengel and Fee take this to be the Cyperus fastigiatus of Linnaeus, 
which Forskhal found in the river Nile. 

28 Spina regia. Some writers have considered this to be the same with 
the Centaurea solstitialis-of Linnaeus. Sprengel takes it to be the Cassyta 
filiformis of Linnaeus, a parasitical plant of India. We must conclude, 
however, with Fee, that both the thorn and the parasite have not hitherto 
been identified. 

208 pliny's natural history. [Book XIII. 

at the rising of the Dog-star, after which it speedily takes 
possession of the whole tree. They use it in the preparation 
of wine, and it is for this purpose that it is planted. This 
thorn grows at Athens also, upon the Long Walls there. 29 


The cytisus 30 is also a shrub, which, as a food for sheep, has 
been extolled with wonderful encomiums by Aristomachus the 
Athenian, and, in a dry state, for swine as well : the same 
author, too, pledges his word that a jugerum of very mid- 
dling land, planted with the cytisus, will produce an income 
of two thousand sesterces per annum. It is quite as useful as 
the ervum, 31 but is apt to satiate more speedily : very little of 
it is necessary to fatten cattle ; to such a degree, indeed, that 
beasts of burden, when fed upon it, will very soon take a dis- 
like to barley. There is no fodder known, in fact, that is 
productive of a greater abundance of milk, and of better qua- 
lity; in the medical treatment of cattle in particular, this 
shrub is found a most excellent specific for every kind of ma- 
lady. Even more than this, the same author recommends it, 
when first dried and then boiled in water, to be given to nurs- 
ing women, mixed with wine, in cases where the milk has 
failed them : and he says that, if this is done, the infant will 
be all the stronger and taller for it. In a green state, or, if 
dried, steeped in water, he recommends it for fowls. Both 
Democritus and Aristomachus promise us also that bees will 
never fail us so long as they can obtain the cytisus for food. 
There is no crop that we know of, of a similar nature, that 
costs a smaller price. It is sown at the same time as barley, 
or, at all events, in the spring, in seed like the leek, or else 
planted in the autumn, and before the winter solstice, in the stalk. 
When sown in grain, it ought to be steeped in water, and if 

29 The Makron Teichos. See B. iv. c. 11. 

30 From the various statements of ancient authors, Fee has come to the 
conclusion that this name was given to two totally different productions. 
The cytisus which the poets speak of as grateful to bees and goats, and 
sheep, he takes to be the Medicago arborea of Linnaeus, known to us as 
Medic trefoil, or lucerne ; while the other, a tree with a black wood, he 
considers identical with the Cytisus laburnum of Liumeus, the laburnum, 
or false ebony tree. 

31 A kind of vetch or tare. Sec B. xviii. 


there should happen to be no rain, it ought to be watered 
when sown : when the plants are about a cubit in height, 
they are replanted in trenches a foot in depth. It is trans- 
planted at the equinoxes, while the shrub is yet tender, and in 
three years it will arrive at maturity. It is cut at the vernal 
equinox, when the flower is just going off ; a child or an old 
woman is able to do this, and their labour may be had at a 
trifling rate. It is of a white appearance, and if one would 
wish to express briefly what it looks like, it is a trifoliate d 
shrub, 32 with small, narrow leaves. It is always given to 
animals at intervals of a couple of days, and in winter, when it is 
dry, before being given to them, it is first moistened with water. 
Ten pounds of cytisus will suffice for a horse, and for smaller 
animals in proportion : if I may here mention it by the way, 
it is found very profitable to sow garlic and onions between 
the rows of cytisus. 

This shrub has been found in the Isle of Cythnus, from 
whence it has been transplanted to all the Cyclades, and more 
recently to the cities of Greece, a fact which has greatly in- 
creased the supply of cheese : considering which, I am much 
surprised that it is so rarely used in Italy. This shrub is proof, 
too, against all injuries from heat, from cold, from hail, and 
from snow : and, as Hyginus adds, against the depredations of 
the enemy even, the wood 33 produced being of no value what- 


Shrubs and trees grow in the sea 34 as well ; those of our 
sea 35 are of inferior size, while, on the other hand, the Red Sea 
and all the Eastern Ocean are filled with dense forests. No 
other language has any name for the shrub wjiich is known to 
the Greeks as the "phycos," 36 since by the word "alga" 37 a 

32 a Frutex." When speaking of it as a shrub, he seems to be confound- 
ing the tree with the plant. 

33 Evidently in allusion to the tree. 

34 He alludes to various kinds of fucus or sea-weed, which grows to a 
much larger size in the Eastern seas. 

35 The Mediterranean.- 

36 Whence the word " fucus " of the naturalists. 

37 Fee suggests that this may be the Laminaria saccharina of Linnaeus, 
being one of the " ulvse " often thrown up on the coasts of Europe. 

vol. in. p 

210 pliny's natural history. [BookXIil. 

mere herb is generally understood, while the " phycos" is a 
complete shrub. This plant has a broad leaf of a green co- 
lour, which is by some called "prason," 38 and by others is 
known as " zoster." 39 Another kind, 40 again, has a hairy sort 
of leaf, very similar to fennel, and grows upon rocks, while 
that previously mentioned grows in shoaly spots, not far from 
the shore. Both kinds shoot in the spring, and die in autumn. 41 
The phycos 42 which grows on the rocks in the neighbourhood 
of Crete, is used also for dyeing purple ; the best kind being 
that produced on the north side of the island, which is the 
case also with sponges of the very best quality. A third kmd, 4a 
again, is similar in appearance to grass ; the root of it is 
knotted, and so is the stalk, which resembles that of a reed. 


There is another kind of marine shrub, known by the name 
of " bryon ;" 44 it has the leaf of the lettuce, only that it is 
of a more wrinkled appearance; it grows nearer land, too, than 
the last. Par out at sea we find a fir-tree 45 and an oak, 4G 
each a cubit in height ; shells are found adhering to their 
branches. It is said that this sea-oak is used for dyeing wool, 
and that some of them even bear acorns 47 in the sea, a fact which 
has been ascertained by shipwrecked persons and divers. There 
are other marine trees also of remarkable size, found in the 
vicinity of Sicyon ; the sea- vine, 48 indeed, grows everywhere. 
The sea-fig w is destitute of leaves, and the bark is red. There 

38 The " green " plant. 39 The " girdle " plant. 

40 The Fucus barbatus, probably, of Linnaeus, or else the Fucus eroides. 

41 They are in reality more long-lived than this. 

43 Fee suggests that it is the Roccella tinctoria of Linnaeus. 

43 The Zostera marina of Linnaeus, according to Fee. 

44 The Ulva lactuca of the moderns, a very common sea-weed. 

45 The Fucus ericoidcs, Fee suggests, not unlike a fir in appearance. 

46 Quercus. According to Gmellin, this is the Fucus vesiculosus of Lin- 
naeus. Its leaves are indented, somewhat similarly to those of the oak. 

47 Polybius, as quoted by Athenaeus, says that in the Lusitanian Sea 
there are oaks that bear acorns, on which the thunnies feed and grow fat. 

48 On the contrary, Theophrastus says, B. iv. c. 7, that the sea-vine 
grows near the sea, from which Fee is disposed to consider it a phaneroga- 
mous plant. If, on the other hand, it is really a fucus, he thinks that the 
Fucus uvarius may be meant, the vesicles of which resemble a grape in 

49 He speaks of a madrepore, Fee thinks, the identity of which it is 


is a palm-tree ^ also in the number of the sea-shrubs. Beyond 
the columns of Hercules there is a sea-shrub that grows with 
the leaf of the leek, and others with those of the carrot, 51 and 
of thyme. Both of these last, when thrown up by the tide, 
are transformed 52 into pumice. 


In the East, it is a very remarkable thing, that immediately 
after leaving Coptos, as we pass through the deserts, we rind 
nothing whatever growing, with the exception of the thorn that 
is known as the " thirsty'' 53 thorn ; and this but very rarely. 
In the Red Sea, however, there are whole forests found grow- 
ing, among which more particularly there are plants that bear 
the laurel-berry and the olive ; 54 when it rains also certain 
fungi make their appearance, which, as soon as they are touched 
by the rays of the sun, are turned into pumice. 55 The size of the 
shrubs is three cubits in height ; and they are all filled with 
sea-dogs, 56 to such a degree, that it is hardly safe to look at 
them from the ship, for they will frequently seize hold of the 
very oars. 


The officers 57 of Alexander who navigated the Indian seas, 
have left an account of a marine tree, the foliage of which is 
green while in the water ; but the moment it is taken out, it 

difficult to determine. Professor Pallas speaks of an Alcyonidium ficus, 
which lives in the Mediterranean and in the ocean, and which resembles a 
fig, and has no leaves, but its exterior is not red. 

50 Fee queries whether this may not be the Gorgonia palma of Linnaeus, 
which has received its name from its resemblance to a small palm-tree. 

51 These three, Fee thinks, are madrepores or zoophytes, which it would 
be vain to attempt to identify. 

52 That is, they dry up to the consistency of pumice. 

53 " Sitiens." Delille considers this as identical with his Acacia seyal, a 
thorny tree, often to be seen in the deserts of Africa. 

54 Probably zoophytes now unknown. 

55 Fee suggests that he may allude to the Madrepora fungites of Lin- 
naeus, the Fungus lapideus of Bauhin, These are found in the Red Sea 
and the Indian Ocean ; hut, of course, the story of their appearance during 
rain is fabulous. 

66 Sharks ; see B. ix. c. 70. 

57 The companions of Onesicritus and Nearchus. 


dries and turns to salt. They have spoken also of bulrushes 58 
of stone bearing a strong resemblance to real ones, which grew 
along the sea- shore, as also certain shrubs 59 in the main _ sea, 
the colour of an ox's horn, branching out in various direc- 
tions, and red at the tips. These, they say, were brittle, and 
broke like glass when touched, while, on the other hand, in 
the fire they would become red-hot like iron, and when cool 
resume their original colour. 

In the same part of the earth also, the tide covers the 
forests that grow on the islands, although the trees there are 
more lofty 60 than the very tallest of our planes and poplars ! 
The leaves of these trees resemble that of the laurel, while the 
blossom is similar to the violet, both in smell and colour : the 
berries resemble those of the olive, and they, too, have an 
agreeable smell : they appear in the autumn, and the leaves 
of the trees never fall off. The smaller ones are entirely 
covered by the waves, while the summits of those of larger 
size protrude from the water, and ships are made fast to them ; 
when the tide falls the vessels are similarly moored to the roots. 
We find the same persons making mention of certain other 
trees which they saw out at sea, which always retained their 
leaves, and bore a fruit very similar to the lupine. 



Juba relates, that about the islands of the^ Troglodytae 
there is a certain shrub found out at sea, which is known as 
the " hair of Isis :" 61 he says that it bears a strong resem- 
blance to coral, is destitute of leaves, and if cut will change 
its colour, becoming quite black and hard, and so brittle as to 
break if it falls. He speaks also of another marine plant, to 
which he gives the name of " Charito-blepharon," 62 and which, 

58 Fee hazards a conjecture that this may be the Gorgonia scirpea of 
Pallas, found in the Indian Seas. 

59 One of the Gorgonise, Fee thinks ; but its characteristics are not suf- 
ficiently stated to enable us to identify it. 

60 A fable worthy of Sinbad the Sailor ! 

61 " Isidis crinem." Fee says that this is evidently black coral, the Gor- 
gonia antipathes of Linnaeus. 

62 « The eyelid of the Graces." Fee is almost tempted to think that he 
means red coral. 

Chap. 52.] SUMMARY. 213 

he says, is particularlj'- efficacious in love-charms. 60 Brace- 
lets 64 and necklaces are made of it. He sa3 r s also that it is sen- 
sible 65 when it is about to be taken, and that it turns as hard 
as horn, so hard, indeed, as to blunt the edge of iron. If, on 
the other hand, it is cut before it is sensible of the danger, it is 
immediately transformed to stone. 

Summary. — Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 
four hundred and sixty-eight. 

Roman authors quoted. — M. Varro, 66 Mucianus, 67 Virgil, 06 
Fabianus, 69 Sebosus, 70 Pomponius Mela, 71 Fabius, 72 Procilius, 7 * 
Hyginus, 74 Trogus, 75 Claudius Caesar, 76 Cornelius Nepos, 77 Sex- 
tius Niger 78 who wrote in Greek on Medicine, Cassius He- 
rnina, 79 L. Piso, 80 Tuditanus, 81 Antias. 82 

Foreign authors quoted. — Theophrastus, 83 Herodotus, 84 
Callisthenes, 85 Isigonus, 86 Clitarchus, 87 Anaximenes, 88 Duris, 39 
Nearchus, 90 Onesicritus, 91 Polycritus, 92 Olympiodorus, 93 Diog- 
netus, 94 Cleobulus, 95 Anticlides, 96 Chares 97 of Mitylene, Me- 
naBchmus, 98 Dorotheus" of Athens, Lycus, 1 Antaeus, 2 Ephip- 

63 Amatoriis. 

64 Spatalia. Armlets or bracelets. 

e5 By this apparently fabulous story, one would be almost inclined to 
think that he is speaking of a zoophyte. 

66 See end of B. ii. 67 g ee en( j of B> iL 

68 See end of B vii. 

69 Papirius Fabianus, See end of B. ii. 

70 See end of B. ii. 7l See end of B. hi. 
72 Fabius Tictor. See end of B. x. 

J 3 See end of B. viii. ™ gee end of B. iii. 

75 Trogus Pompeius. See end of B. vii. 

76 See end of B, v. " See end of B. ii. 
78 See end of B. xii. ™ See end of B. xii. 
80 See end of B. ii. 8i g ee en( j f B.\ii. 
82 See end of B. ii. 83 g ee end of B. iii. 
84 See end of B. ii. 85 g ee en & f £ ^ 
86 See end of B. vii. 87 See end of B. vi. 
88 See end of B. xii. 69 g ee en d f r. v jj # 
90 See end of B. vi. ^ See end of B. ii. 
94 See end of B. xii. 93 g ee en( j f g. x n 
94 See end of B. vi. ■ 95 g ee en( j f g # j v> 
96 See end of B. iv. 97 S ee end of B. xii. 
98 See end of B. iv. 99 See end of B. viii. 

1 See end of B. xii. 2 See end of B. xii. 

214 plijty's natural history. [Book XII I. 

pus, 3 Dion, 4 Adimantus, 6 Ptolemy Lagus, 6 Marsyas 7 of 
Macedon, Zoilus 8 of Macedon, Democritu-s, 9 Amphilochus, 10 
Alexander Polyhistor, 11 Aristomachus, 12 King Juba, 13 Apollo- 
dorus M who wrote on Perfames, Heraclides 15 the physician, 
Botrys 16 the physician, Archidemus 17 the physician, Diony- 
sius 18 the physician, Democlides 19 the physician, Euphron 20 
the physician, Mnesides 21 the physician, Diagoras 22 the phy- 
sician, Iollas 23 the physician, Heraclides 24 of Tarentum, Xeno- 
crates K of Ephesus. 

3 See end of B. xii. 4 See end of B. viii. 

5 Nothing 1 certain is known of him ; but he appears to be the geographer, 
a native of Lampsacus, mentioned by Strabo in B. xiii. 

6 See end of B. xii. 7 See end of B. xii. 
8 See end of B. xii. 9 See end of B. ii. 

10 See end of B. viii. n See end of B. iii. 

12 A writer on Agriculture, or domestic economy ; but nothing further is 
known of him. 13 See end of B. v. 

14 Perhaps the same writer that is mentioned at the end of B. xi. 

15 For two physicians of this name, see end of B. xii. 

16 One of his prescriptions is preserved in the works of Galen. Nothing 

else is known of him. 

17 See end of B. 


18 See end of B. xii. 

19 See end of B. 


20 See end of B. xii. 

21 See end of B. 


22 See end of B. xii. 

23 See end of B. 


24 See end of B. xii. 

25 See end of B. 







Those which have been hitherto mentioned, are, nearly all 
of them, exotic trees, which it is impossible to rear in any 
other than their native soil, and which are not to be naturalized 
in strange countries. 1 It is now for us to speak of the more 
ordinary kinds, of all of which Italy may be looked upon 
as more particularly the parent. 2 Those who are well ac- 
quainted with the subject, must only bear in mind that for 
the present we content ourselves with merely stating the 
different varieties of these trees, and not the mode of cultivating 
them, although there is no doubt that the characteristics of a 
tree depend very considerably upon its cultivation. At this 
fact I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment, that of 
some trees all memory has utterly perished, and that the 
very names of some, of which we find various authors making 
mention, have wholly disappeared. 3 And yet who does not 
readily admit that now, when intercommunications have been 
opened between all parts of the world, thanks to the majestic 
sway of the Eoman empire, civilization and the arts of life 
have made a rapid progress, owing to the interchange of com- 
modities and the common enjoyment by all of the blessings of 
peace, while at the same time a multitude of objects which 

1 This must be understood with considerable modification — many- of 
the tropical trees and plants have been naturalized, and those of America 
more particularly, in Europe. 

2 He is probably wrong in looking upon the vine as indigenous to Italy. 
It was known in very earty times in Egypt and Greece, and it is now 
generally considered that it is indigenous throughout the tract that 
stretches to the south, from the the mountains of Mazandiran on the Cas- 
pian to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Sea, and eastward 
through Khorassan and Cabul to the base of the Himalayas. 

3 The art of printing, Fee remarks, utterly precludes the recurrence of 
such a fact as thjs. 


formerly lay concealed, are now revealed for our indiscriminate 

Still, by Hercules ! at the present day there are none to be 
found who have any acquaintance with much that has been 
handed down to us by the ancient writers ; so much more 
comprehensive was the diligent research of our forefathers, or 
else so much more happily employed was their industry. It 
is a thousand years ago since Hesiod, 4 at the very dawn, so to 
say, of literature, first gave precepts for the guidance of the 
agriculturist, an example which has since been followed by no 
small number of writers. Hence have originated considerable 
labours for ourselves, seeing that we have not only to enquire 
into the discoveries of modern times, but to ascertain as well 
what was known to the ancients, and this, too, in the very 
midst of that oblivion which the heedlessness of the present 
day has so greatly tended to generate. What causes then are 
we to assign for this lethargy, other than those feelings which 
we find actuating the public in general throughout all the 
world ? New manners and usages, no doubt, have now come 
into vogue, and the minds of men are occupied with subjects 
of a totally different nature ; the arts of avarice, in fact, are 
the only ones that are now cultivated. 

In days gone by, the sway and the destinies of states were 
bounded by their own narrow limits, and consequently the 
genius of the people was similarly circumscribed as well, 
through a sort of niggardliness that was thus displayed by 
Fortune : hence it became with them a matter of absolute 
necessity to employ the advantages of the understanding : 
kings innumerable received the homage of the arts, and in 
making a display of the extent of their resources, gave the 
highest rank to those arts, entertaining the opinion that it was 
through them that they should ensure immortality. Hence it 
was that due rewards, and the various works of civilization, were 
displayed in such vast abundance in those times. For these 
later ages, the enlarged boundaries of the habitable world, 
and the vast extent of our empire, have been a positive injury. 
Since the Censor has been chosen for the extent of his property, 
since the judge has been selected according to the magnitude of 
his fortune, since it has become the fashion to consider that 

4 In allusion to Ms poem, the "Works and Days," the prototype of 
Virgil's Georgics. 

Chap. 2.] 


nothing reflects a higher merit upon the magistrate and the 
general than a large estate, since the being destitute of heirs 6 
has begun to confer upon persons the very highest power and 
influence, since legacy-hunting 6 has become the most lucrative 
of all professions, and since it has been considered that the 
only real pleasures are those of possessing, all the true enjoy- 
ments of life have been utterly lost sight of, and all those arts 
which have derived the name of liberal, from liberty, 7 that 
greatest blessing of life, have come to deserve the contrary 
appellation, servility alone being the passport to profit. 

This servility each one has his own peculiar way of making 
most agreeable, and of putting in practice in reference to 
others, the motives and the hopes of all tending to the one 
great object, the acquisition of wealth : indeed, we may every- 
where behold men even of naturally excellent qualities pre- 
ferring to foster the vicious inclinations of others rather than 
cultivate their own talents. We may therefore conclude, by 
Hercules ! that pleasure has now begun to live, and that life, 
truly so called, has ceased to be. 8 As to ourselves, however, 
we shall continue our researches into matters now lost in ob- 
livion, nor shall we be deterred from pursuing our task by the 
trivial nature 9 of some of our details, a consideration which 
has in no way influenced us in our description of the animal 
world. And yet we find that Virgil, that most admirable 
poet, has allowed this to influence him, in his omission to enlarge 
upon the beauties of the garden ; for, happy and graceful poet 
as he is, he has only culled what we may call, the flower of 
his subject: indeed, we find that he has only named 10 in all 
some fifteen varieties of the grape, three of the olive, the same 
number of the pear, and the citron of Assyria, and has passed 
over the rest in silence altogether. 

(2). With what then ought we to begin in preference to the 
vine, the superiority in which has been so peculiarly con- 

5 He alludes to the legacy-hunters with which Rome abounded in his 
time. They are spoken of by Seneca, Tacitus, and Juvenal, in terms of 
severe reprobation. 

6 This seems to be the meaning of " captatio ;" much like what we call 
" toadying," or " toad-eating." 

' The " liberales artes," were those, the pursuit of which was not con- 
sidered derogatory to the dignity of a, free man. 
8 Vita ipsa desut. 
» Humilitas. 10 In the Georgics. 

218 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XIV. 

ceded to Italy, that in this one blessing we may pronounce her 
to have surpassed those of all other nations of the earth, with 
the sole exception of those that bear the various perfumes ? 
and even there, when the vine is in flower, there is not a per- 
fume known which in exquisite sweetness can surpass it. 
The vine has been justly reckoned 11 by the ancients among the 
trees, on account of its remarkable size. In the city of Popu- 
lonium, we see a statue of , Jupiter formed of the trunk of a 
single vine, which has for ages remained proof against all 
decay ; and at Massilia, there is a patera made of the same 
wood. At Metapontum, the temple of Juno has long stood 
supported by pillars formed of the like material ; and even at 
the present day we ascend to the roof of the temple of Diana at 
Ephesus, by stairs constructed, it is said, of the trunk of a single 
vine, that was brought from Cyprus ; the vines of that island 
often attaining a most remarkable size. There is not a wood in 
existence of a more lasting nature than this ; I am strongly 
inclined, however, to be of opinion that the material of which 
these various articles were constructed was the wild vine. 



The cultivated vine is kept down by pruning every year, 
and all the strength of the tree is drawn as much as possible 
into the shoots, or else thrown downwards to the sets ; 12 indeed, 
it is only allowed to expand with the view of ensuring an 
abundant supply of juice, a result which is obtained in various 
modes according to the peculiarities of the climate and the 
nature of the soil. In Campania they attach 13 the vine to the 
poplar : embracing the tree to which it is thus wedded, the 
vine grasps the branches with its amorous arms, and as it 
climbs, holds on with its knotted trunk, till it has reached the 
very summit ; the height being sometimes so stupendous that 
the vintager when hired is wont to stipulate for his funeral 
pile and a grave at the owner's expense. The vine keeps 

11 Theopbrastus reckons it among the trees ; Columella, B. ii., considers 
it to occupy a middle position between a tree and a shrub. Horace, B. i. 
Ode 18, calls it a tree, " arbor.' 

12 Or "layers," " propagines." 

13 Nubunt, properly " marry." This is still done in Naples, and other 
parts of Italy. The use of vine stays there are unknown. 

Chap. 3.] 


continually on the increase, and it is quite impossible to sepa- 
rate the two, or rather, I may say, to tear them asunder. 
Yalerianus Cornelius has regarded it as one of the most re- 
markable facts that could be transmitted to posterity, that 
single vines have been known to surround villas and country- 
houses with their shoots and creeping tendrils ever on the 
stretch. At Eome, in the porticoes of Livia, a single vine, 
with its leaf-clad trellises, protects with its shade the walks 
in the open air ; the fruit of it yields twelve amphorae of 
must. 14 

Everywhere we find the vine overtopping the elm even, 
and we read that Cineas, 14 * the ambassador of King Pyrrhus, 
when admiring the great height of the vines at Aricia, 
wittily making allusion to the peculiar rough taste of wine, 
remarked that it was with very good reason that they had 
hung the parent of it on so lofty a gibbet. There is a tree 
in that part of Italy which lies beyond the Padus, 15 known 
as the " rumpotinus," 15 * or sometimes by the name of "opu- 
lus," the broad circular 16 storeys of which are covered with 
vines, whose branches wind upwards in a serpentine form to 
the part where the boughs finally divide, 17 and then, throw- 
ing out their tendrils, disperse them in every direction among 
the straight and finger-like twigs which project from the 
branches. There are vines also, about as tall as a man of 
moderate height, which are supported by props, and, as they 
throw out their bristling tendrils, form whole vineyards : while 
others, again, in their inordinate love for climbing, combined 
with skill on the part of the proprietor, will cover even the 
very centre 18 of the court-yard with their shoots and foliage. 

li " Mustum." Pure, unfermented juice of the grape. 
u * See B. vii. c. 24. 15 Italia Transpadana.^ 

15 * See B. xxiv.'c. 112. The Bauhins are of opinion that this is the 
Acer opulus of Willdenow, common in Italy, and very branchy. 

16 *' Tabulate in orbem patula." He probably alludes to the branches 
extending horizontally from the trunk. 

17 " In palmam ejus." . . 

is There is no doubt that the whole of this passage is m a most cor- 
rupt state, and we can only guess at its meaning. Sillig suggests a new 
reading, which, unsupported as it is by any of the MSS., can only be 
regarded as fanciful, and perhaps as a very slight improvement on the 
attempts to obtain a solution of the difficulty. Pliny's main object seems 
to be to contrast the vines that entwine round poles and^ rise perpendicu- 
larly with those that creep horizontally. 

220 plint's natural HISTORY. [Book XIV. 

So numerous are the varieties of the vine which even Italy- 
alone presents. 

In some of the provinces the vine is able to stand of itself 
without anything to support it, drawing in its bending 
branches, and making up in its thickness for its stunted size. 
In other places, again, the winds will not allow of this mode of 
culture, as in Africa, for instance, and various parts of the 
province of Gallia Narbonensis. These vines, being prevented 
from growing beyond the first branches, and hence always 
retaining a resemblance to those plants which stand in need 
of the hoe, trail along the ground just like them, and every 
here and there suck 19 up the juices from the earth to fill their 
grapes : it is in consequence of this, that in the interior of Africa 
the clusters 20 are known to exceed the body of an infant in size. 
The wine of no country is more acid than those of Africa, but 
there is nowhere to be found a grape that is more agreeable 
for its firmness, a circumstance which may very probably have 
given rise to its name of the "hard grape." 21 As to the 
varieties of the grape, although they are rendered innumerable 
by the size, the colour, and the flavour of the berry, they are 
multiplied even still more by the wines that they produce. 
In one part they are lustrous with a rich purple colour, while 
in another, again, they glow with a rosy tint, or else are glossy 
with their verdant hue. The grapes that are merely white 
or black are the common sorts. The bumastus 22 swells out 
in form like a breast, while that known as the " dactylus," 2S 
has a berry of remarkable length. Nature, too, displays such 
varieties in these productions of hers, that small grapes are 
often to be found adhering to the largest vines, but of sur- 
passing sweetness ; they are known by the name of " lep- 
torragse." 24 Some, again, will keep throughout the winter, if 
care is taken to hang them to the ceiling 25 with a string ; 

19 By throwing out fresh shoots every here and there. Fee, however, 
seems to think that he means that the grapes themselves, as they trail 
along the ground, suck up the juices with their pores. These are known 
in France as " running vines," and are found in Berry and Anjou. 

20 He must evidently be speaking of the size of the bunches. See the 
account of the grapes of Canaan, in Numbers xiii. 24. 

21 " Durus acinus," or, according to some readings, " duracinus." 

22 From the Greek (Sov^iaaTog, a cow's teat, mentioned by Virgil, Georg. 
ii. 102. 23 Or finger-grape. 

24 From the Greek Xs-rrTopayeQ, " small-berried." 

25 Pensili concamaratae nodo. 


while others, again, will keep by virtue of their own natural 
freshness and vigour, if put into earthen jars, which are then 
enclosed in dolia, 26 and covered up with the fermenting husks 
of grapes. Some grapes receive from the smoke of the black- 
smith's forge that remarkable flavour which it is also known 
to impart to wines : it was the high name of the Emperor 
Tiberius that brought into such great repute the grapes that 
had been smoked in the smithies of Africa. Before his time 
the highest rank at table was assigned to the grapes of Rhae- 
tia, 2; and to those growing in the territory of Verona. 

Raisins of the sun have the name of "passi," from having 
been submitted 28 to the influence of the sun. It is not un- 
common to preserve grapes in must, and so make them drunk 
with their own juices; while there are some that are all the 
sweeter for being placed in must after it has been boiled ; 
others, again, are left to hang on the parent tree till a new 
crop has made its appearance, by which time they have be- 
come as clear and as transparent 29 as glass. Astringent 
pitch, if poured upon the footstalk of the grape, will impart 
to it all that body and that firmness which, when placed in 
dolia or amphorae, it gives to wine. More recently, too, there 
has been discovered a vine which produces a fruit that imparts 
to its wine a strong flavour of pitch : it is the famous grape 
that confers such celebrity on the territory of Yienne, 30 and of 
which several varieties have recently enriched the territories 
of the Arverni, the Sequani, and the Helvii : 31 it was un- 
known in the time of the poet Virgil, who has now been dead 
these ninety years. 32 

In addition to these particulars, need I make mention of the 
fact that the vine 33 has been introduced into the camp and 

26 "We have no corresponding word for the Latin " dolium." It was 
an oblong earthen vessel, used for much the same purpose as our vats ; 
new wine was generally placed in it. In times later than that of Pliny 
the dolia were made of wood. 

27 Hardouin speaks of these grapes as still growing in his time in the 
Valtelline, and remarkable for their excellence. 

28 " A patientia." Because they have suffered from the action of the 

29 From the thinness ef the skin. 

30 See c. 24, also B. xxiii. c. 24. 31 See B. hi. c. 5, and B. xxxiii. c 24. 

32 He died in the year b.c. 19. 

33 A vine sapling was the chief mark of the centurion's authority. 

222 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

placed in the centurion's hand for the preservation of the 
supreme authority and command ? that this is the high reward 
which summons the lagging ranks to the eagles raised aloft, 34 
and that even in chastisement for faults it tends to reflect 
honour upon the punishment ? 35 It was the vineyard, too, 
that first afforded a notion, 36 the practical utility of which has 
been experienced in many a siege. Among the medicinal pre- 
parations, too, the vine holds so high a place, that its very 
wines taken by themselves are efficacious as remedies for 
disease. 37 


Democritus, who has declared that he was acquainted with 
every variety of the grape known in Greece, is the only person 
who has been of opinion that every kind could be enumerated ; 
but, on the other hand, the rest of the authors have stated that 
they are quite innumerable 38 and of infinite extent, an assertion 
the truth of which will be more evident, if we only consider 
the vast number of wines. I shall not attempt, then, to speak 
of every kind of vine, but only of those that are the most re- 
markable, seeing that the varieties are very nearly as number- 
less as the districts in which they grow. It will suffice, then, 
to point out those which are the most remarkable among the 
vines, or else are peculiar for some wonderful property. 

The very highest rank is given to the Aminean 39 grape, on 

34 The reading " elatas," has been adopted. If "lentas" is retained, 
it may mean, " promotion, slow though it be," for the word " aquila" 
was often used to denote the rank of the " primipilus," who. had the 
charge of the eagle of the legion. 

35 Because it was the privilege solely of those soldiers who were Roman 
citizens to he beaten with the vine sapling. 

36 He alludes to the "vinea" used in besieging towns ; the first notion 
of which was derived from the leafy roof afforded by the vines when creeping 
on the trellis over-head. It was a moveable machine, affording a roof 
under which the besiegers protected themselves against darts, stones, fire, 
and other missiles. Baw hides or wet cloths constituted the uppermost 

37 See B. xxiii. c. 19. 

38 Many years ago, there were in the gardens of the Luxembourg one 
thousand four hundred varieties of the French grape, and even then there 
were many not to be found there ; while, at the same time, it was con- 
sidered that the French kinds did not form more than one-twentieth part 
of the species known in Europe. 

39 This vine was said to be of Grecian origin, and to have been con- 


account of the body and durability of its wine, which improves 
with old a°-e There are five varieties of the Aminean grape ; 
of these, the smaller germana, or " sister" grape, has a smaller 
berry than the rest, and flowers more strongly, being able to 
bear up against rain and tempestuous weather ; a thing that 
is not the case with the larger germana, though it is less ex- 
posed to danger when attached to a tree than when supported 
only by a trellis. Another kind, again, has obtained the 
name of the " gemella," or " twin" grape, because the clusters 
always grow 40 in couples : the flavour of the wine is extremely 
rou4, but it is remarkable for its strength. Of these several 
varieties the smaller one suffers from the south wind, but re- 
ceives nutriment from all the others, upon Mount Vesuvius 
for instance, and the hills of Surrentum : in the other parte of 
Italy it is never grown except attached to trees. The ntth 
kind is that known as the lanata, or " woolly" grape ; so that 
we need not be surprised at the wool-bearing trees 41 of the 
Seres or the Indians, for this grape is covered with a woolly 
down of remarkable thickness. It is the first of the Ami- 
nean vines that ripens, but the grape decays with remarkable 

^^he^econcl rank belongs to the vines of Momentum, 4 ? the 
wood of which is red, from which circumstance the vines have 
received from some the name of " rubellse." The grapes of 
this vine produce less wine than usual, in consequence of the 
extraordinary quantity of husk and lees they throw off: but 
the vine is remarkably strong, is well able to stand the frost, 
and is apt to receive more detriment from drought than from 
rain from heat than from cold ; hence it is that those are 
looked upon as the best that are grown in cold and moist 
localities. That variety which has the smallest grape is con- 
veyed by a Thessalian tribe to Italy, where it was grown at Aminea, a 
village in the Falernian district of Campania. It is supposed to have 
been°the same as the gros plant of the French. The varieties mentioned 
by Pliny seem not to have been recognized by the moderns. 

40 Fee does not give credit to this statement. 

4i In allusion to the cotton-tree, or else the mulberry leaves covered 
with the cocoons of the silkworm. See B. vi. c. 20, and B. xn. c. 21. 
Virgil, in the Georgics, has the well-known line : 

" Velleraque ut foliis depectant tenuia Seres.' _ _ 

42 See B. iii. c. 9. There are many vines, the wood of which is red, 
but this species has not been identified. 

224 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XIV. 

sidered the most fruiti\il : the one which has a jagged leaf is 
less productive. 

The vine known as the " apiana," 43 has received that name 
from the bee, an insect which is remarkably fond of it : there 
are two varieties of this vine. This grape, too, is covered in 
its young state with a kind of down ; the main difference be- 
tween the two varieties is, that the one ripens more rapidly 
than the other, though this last ripens with considerable 
quickness. A cold locality is not at all hurtful to them, 
although there is no grape that ripens sooner : these grapes, 
however, very soon rot in the rain. The wines produced by 
this grape are sweet at first, but contract a rough flavour in 
the course of years. This vine is cultivated more than any 
other in Etruria. Thus far we have made mention of the 
more celebrated vines among those which are peculiar and in- 
digenous to Italy ; the rest have been introduced from Chios 
or Thasos. 

The small Greek 44 grape is not inferior to the Aminean for 
the excellence of its quality : the berry is remarkably thin- 
skinned, and the cluster so extremely small, 45 that it is not 
worth while cultivating it, except on a soil of remarkable 
richness. The eugenia, 46 so called from its high qualities, has 
been introduced into the Alban territory from the hills of 
Tauromenium : 47 it is found, however, to thrive only there, 
for if transplanted elsewhere it degenerates immediately : in 
fact, there is in some vines so strong an attachment to their 
native soil, that they leave behind them all their high repute, 
and are never transplanted in their full entirety. This is the 
case, too, with the B-hsetian and the Allobrogian grapes, of 
which we have made mention above as the pitch-flavoured 48 
grape; these are justly deemed excellent in their own coun- 

43 From " apis," a " bee." He alludes, it is thought, to the muscatel 
grape, said to have had its name from " musca," a " fly ;" an insect which 
is greatly attracted by its sweetness. 

44 Grsecula. 

45 Fee is inclined to think that he alludes to the vine of Corinth, the 
dried fruit of which are the currants of commerce. 

46 From the Greek ivykvua. 

47 Now Taormina, in Sicily, where, Fee says, it is still to be found. 
The grapes are red, similar to those of Mascoli near Etna, and much 

48 Picata. Seep. 221. 


try, while elsewhere they are held in no esteem at all. Still, 
however, in consequence of their remarkable fertility, they 
make up for quality by abundance : the eugenia thrives in 
spots which are scorching hot, the Rhsetian vine in places of a 
more moderate temperature, and the Allobrogian in cold, ex- 
posed situations, the fruit being of a black colour, and ripened 
by the agency of frost. 

The wines produced from the vines of which we have 
hitherto made mention, even though the grapes are black, 
become, all of them, when old, of a white 49 complexion. The 
other vines are of no note in particular, though sometimes, 
thanks to some peculiarity either in the climate or the soil, 
the wines produced from them attain a mature old age ; such, 
for instance, as the Fecenian 50 vine, and the Biturigian, 51 which 
blossoms at the same time with it, but has not so many grapes. 
The blossoms of these last-mentioned vines are not liable to 
receive injury, both because they are naturally but transi- 
tory, and have the power of resisting the action of both wind 
and storm ; still, however, those that grow in cold spots are 
considered superior to those produced in a warm site, and those 
found in moist places superior to those grown in dry, thirsty 

The vine known as the "visula" 52 * * * * more 
than abundance of fruit, being unable to endure the extreme 
variations of the atmosphere, though it is very well able to 
stand a continuation of either cold or heat. Of this last kind 
the smaller one is the best, but difficult to please in its choice ; 
in a rich earth it is apt to rot, while in a thin soil it will come 
to nothing at all : in its fastidiousness it requires a soil of 
middling quality, and hence it is that it is so commonly found 
on the hills of the Sabine territory. Its grape is unsightly in 
appearance, but has a very pleasant flavour : if it is not gathered 
at the very moment that it is ripe, it will fall} even before it 
decays. The extreme size of the leaves, and its natural hardi- 

49 I. e., pale straw colour. 

50 It has been supposed that this vine received its name from "faex;" the 
wine depositing an unusually large quantity of lees. 

51 It is doubtful whether this vine had its name from being grown in 
the district now called Bourges, or that of Eourdeaux. Dalechamps iden- 
tifies it with the plant d' Orleans. 

62 The origin of its name is unknown. The text is evidently defective. 


226 plint's natttbal histoey. [Book XIV. 

ness, are its great protection against the disastrous effects of 

The grapes known as " helvolaB" 53 are remarkable for the 
peculiarity of their colour, which is a sort of midway between 
purple and black, but varies so frequently that it has made 
some persons give them the name of " variana?." Of the two 
sorts of helvolse, the black is the one generally preferred : they 
both of them produce every other year, but the wine is best 
when the vintage has been less abundant. 

The vine that is known as the " precia" M is also divided 
into two varieties, distinguished by the size of the grape. 
These vines produce a vast quantity of wood, and the grape is 
very good for preserving in jars; 55 the leaves are similar in 
appearance to, that of parsley. 56 The people of Dyrrhachium 
hold in high esteem the vine known as the " basilica," the 
same which in Spain is called the " cocolobis." 57 The grapes 
of this Tine grow in thin clusters, and it can stand great heat, 
and the south winds. The wine produced from it is apt to fly 
to the head : 58 the produce of the vine is very large. The 
people in Spain distinguish two kinds of this vine, the one 
with the oblong, the other with the round grape ; they gather 
this fruit the very last of all. The sweeter the cocolobis is, 
the more it is valued ; but even if it has a rough taste, the wine 
will become sweet by keeping, while, on the other hand, that 
which was sweet at first, will acquire a certain roughness ; it 
is in this last state that the wine is thought to rival that of 
Alba. 59 It is said that the juice of this grape is remarkably 
efficacious when drunk as a specific for diseases of the bladder. 

53 By this name it would be understood that they were of an inter- 
mediate colour between rose and white, a not uncommon colour in the 
grape. Pliny, however, says otherwise, and he is supported by Columella. 

54 C. Bauhin took this to mean one of the garden currant trees, the 
Ribes uva crispa of Linnaeus, called by Bauhin Grossularia simplici acino, 
or else Spinosa agrestis. But, as Fee observes, the ancients were not so 
ignorant as to confound a vine with a currant-bush. 

55 Like the Portuguese grapes of the present day. 

56 Crisped and indented. 

57 This variety, according to Christian de la Vega, was cultivated 
abundantly in Grenada. The word cocolab, according to some, meant 
cock's comb. It is mentioned as a Spanish word by Columella. 

58 Dalechamps says, that a similar wine was made at Montpellier, and 
that it was called "piquardant." 

59 See B. xxiii. cc. 20, 21. 


The " albuelis" 60 produces most of its fruit at the top of 
the tree, the visula at the bottom ; hence, when planted around 
the same tree, in consequence of these peculiarities in their 
nature, they bear between them a two-fold crop. One of the 
black grape vines has been called the " inerticula," 61 though 
it might with more propriety have been styled the " sobria;" 62 
the wine from it is remarkably good, and more particularly 
when old ; but though strong, it is productive of no ill effects, 
and, indeed, is the only wine that will not cause in- 

The abundance of their produce again recommends other 
vines to us, and, in the first place, that known as the " helven- 
naca." 63 Of this vine there are two kinds ; the larger, which 
is by some called the "long" helvennaca, and the smaller 
kind, which is known as the " emarcum,"^ not so prolific as 
the first, but producing a wine of more agreeable flavour ; it 
is distinguished by its rounded leaf, but they are both of 
them of slender make. It is requisite to place forks beneath 
these vines for the support of their branches, as otherwise it 
would be quite impossible for them to support the weight of 
their produce : they receive nutriment from the breezes that 
blow from the sea, and foggy weather is injurious to them. 
There is not one among the vines that manifests a greater 
aversion to Italy, for there it becomes comparatively leafless 
and stunted, and soon decays, while the wine which it produces 
there will not keep beyond the summer : no vine, however, 
thrives better in a poor soil. Graecinus, who has copied from 
the works of Cornelius Celsus, gives it as his opinion that it is 
not that the nature of this vine is repugnant to the climate 
of Italy, but that it is the mode of cultivating it that is 

60 Probably from "albus," "white." Poinsinet thinks that it may 
have been so called from the Celtic word alb, or alp, a mountain, and that 
it grew on elevated spots. This, however, is probably fanciful. 

el Called by the Greeks an'tQvaTov, from its comparatively harmless 

63 Or "sober" vine. 

63 Hardouin says that in his time it was still cultivated about Macerata, 
in the Roman States. Fee thinks that it may be one of the climbing 
vines, supported by forks, cultivated in the central provinces of France. 
See also B. xxiii. c. 19, as to the effects produced by its wine. 

64 Poinsinet gives a Celto- Scythian origin to this word, and says that it 
means "injured by fogs." This appears to be supported in some measure 
by what is stated below. 

Q 2 

228 pliny's fatttkal history. [Book XI Y. 

wrong, and the anxiety to force it to put forth its shoots ; a 
mode of treatment, he thinks, which absorbs all its fertility, 
unless the soil in which it is planted happens to be remarkably 
rich, and by its support prevents it from being exhausted. It 
is said that this vine is never carbuncled, 65 a remarkable qua- 
lity, if, indeed, it really is the fact that there is any vine in 
existence that is exempt from the natural influences of the 

The spionia, by some called the " spinea," 66 is able to bear 
heat very well, and thrives in the autumn and rainy weather : 
indeed, it is the only one among all the vines that does well 
amid fogs, for which reason it is peculiar to the territory of 
Ravenna. 67 The venicula 68 is one of those that blossom the 
strongest, and its grapes are particularly well adapted for pre- 
serving in jars. The Campanians, however, prefer to give it 
the name of " scircula," while others, again, call it " stacula." 
Tarracina has a vine known as the " numisiana;" it has no 
qualities of its own, but has characteristics just according to 
the nature of the soil in which it is planted : the wine, how- 
ever, if kept in the earthen casks 69 of Surrentum, is remark- 
able for its goodness, that is to say, as far south as Vesuvius. 
On arriving in that district, we find the Murgentina, 70 the very 
best among all those that come from Sicily. Some, indeed, 
call the vine " Pompeiana/' 71 and it is more particularly fruitful 
when grown in Latium, just as the " horconia" 72 is productive 
nowhere but in Campania. Of a contrary nature is the vine 
known as the " argeica," and by Yirgil called " argitis:" 78 
it makes the ground all the more 74 productive, and is remark- 

65 See B. xvii. c. 37. 

66 Or " thorny" vine. Fee queries why it should he thus called. 

67 This humid, marshy locality was noted for the badness of its grapes, 
and consequently of its wine. 

68 Hardouin thinks that this is the "Marze mina" of the Venetians : 
whence, perhaps, its ancient name. 

69 " Testis." See B. xxxv. c. 46. 

70 From Murgentum, in Sicily. See B. iii. c. 14. 

71 From Pompeii, afterwards destroyed. See B. iii c. 9. 

72 Hardouin, as Fee thinks, without good reason, identifies this with 
the "Arelaca" of Columella. 

73 Georgics, ii. 99. 

74 This seems to be the meaning of "ultro solum lsetius tacit." These 
two lines have been introduced by Sillig, from one of the MSS., for the 
first time. 


ably stout in its resistance to rain and the effects of old age, 
though it will hardly produce wine every year ; it is remark- 
able for the abundant crops which it bears, though the grapes 
are held but in small esteem for eating. The vine known as 
the " metica" lasts well for years, and offers a successful re- 
sistance to all changes of weather ; the grape is black, and the 
wine assumes a tawny hue when old. 

(3.) The varieties that have been mentioned thus far are 
those that are generally known ; the others belong to peculiar 
countries or individual localities, or else are of a mixed nature, 
the produce of grafting. Thus the vine known as the " Tuder- 
nis," 75 is peculiar to the districts of Etruria, and so too is the 
vine that bears the name of " Florentia." At Arretium the 
talpona, the etesiaca, and the consemina, are particularly ex- 
cellent. 76 The talpona, 77 which is a black grape, produces a 
pale, straw-coloured 78 must : the etesiaca 79 is apt to deceive ; 
the more the wine it produces the better the quality, but it 
is a remarkable fact, that just as it has reached that point its 
fecundity ceases altogether. The consemina 80 bears a black 
grape, but its wine will not keep, though the grape itself is 
a most excellent keeper ; it is gathered fifteen days later than 
any other kind of grape : this vine is very fruitful, but- its 
grape is only good for eating. The leaves of this tree, like 
those of the wild vine, turn the colour of blood just before the 
fall : the same is the case also with some 81 other varieties, but 
it is a proof that they are of very inferior quality. 

The irtiola 82 is a vine peculiar to Umbria and the terri- 

75 Hardouin thinks that it is so called from Tuder, a town of Etruria. 
See B. iii. c. 19. 

76 Sillig suggests that the reading here is corrupt, and that Pliny 
means to say that the vine called Florentia is particularly excellent, and 
merely to state that the talpona, &c, are peculiar to Arretium : for, as 
he says, speaking directly afterwards in disparagement of them, it is not 
likely he would pronounce them "opima," of "first-rate quality." 

77 From " talpa," a " mole," in consequence of its black colour. 

78 "Album." 

79 Probably so called from the Etesian winds, which improved its growth. 

80 Perhaps meaning " double-seeded." We may here remark, that the 
wines of Tuscany, though held in little esteem in ancient times, are highly 
esteemed at the present day, 

81 The leaves of most varieties turn red just before the fall. 

82 And Baccius thinks that this is the kind from which the raisins of the 

230 plint's nattjeal histoet. [Book XIV. 

tories of Mevania and Picenum, while the punrala 83 belongs 
to Amiternum. In the same districts we find the vine called 
bannanica, 84 which is very deceptive, though the people are 
remarkably fond of its fruit. The municipal town of Pom- 
peii has given its name to the Pompeia, 85 although it is to be 
foimd in greater abundance in the territory of Clusium. The 
Tiburina, also, is so called from the municipal town of Tibiir, 
although it is in this district that they have lately discovered 
the grape known as the " oleaginea," from its strong resem- 
blance to an olive : this being the very last kind of grape that 
has been introduced. The Sabines and the Laurentes are the 
only people acquainted with the vinaciola. 87 As to the vines 
of Mount Graurus, 88 1 am aware that, as they have been trans- 
planted from the Palernian territory, they bear the name of 
"Falernian :" but it is a fact that the Palernian vine, when 
transplanted, rapidly degenerates. Some persons, too, have 
made out a Tarentine variety, with a grape of remarkable 
sweetness : the grapes of the " capnios," 89 the " bucconiatis," 90 
and the "tarrupia," grow on the hills of Thurii, and are 
never gathered till after the frost commences. Pisae enjoys 
the Parian vine, and Mutina the prusinian, 91 with a black 
grape, the wine of which turns pale within four years. It is 
a very remarkable thing, but there is a grape here that turns 
round with the sun, in its diurnal motion, a circumstance from 
which it has received the name of " strep tos." 92 In Italy, the 

sun, common in Italy, and more particularly in the Valley of Bevagna, the 
Mevania of Pliny, are made. 

83 Perhaps from "pumilio," a dwarf. 

84 The " royal" vine, according to Poinsinet, who would derive it from 
the Sclavonic "ban." 

85 Previously mentioned, p. 228. 

86 The residence of Horace, now Tivoli. 

87 Baccius says that the wine of this grape was thin like water, and that 
the vine was trained on lofty trees, a mode of cultivation still followed in 
the vicinity of Rome. Laurentum was situate within a short distance of 
it, near Ostia. 

S8 See B. hi. c. 9. 

89 So called from the smoky or intermediate colour of its grapes. Pee 
suggests that this may be the slow-ripening grape of France, called the 
" verjus," or " rognon de coq." 

90 Possibly meaning the " mouthful." 

91 Perhaps so called from Prusa in Bithynia, a district which bore ex- 
cellent grapes. 

92 Or the " turning " grape. A fabulous story no doubt, originating in 


Gallic vine is a great favourite, while beyond the Alps that of 
Picenum 93 is preferred. Virgil has made mention 94 of the 
Thasian vine, the Mareotis, the lagea, and several other foreign 
varieties, which are not to be found in Italy. 

There are some vines, again, that are remarkable, not for 
their wine, but for their grapes, such, for instance, as the am- 
brosia, 95 one of the " duracinus ' ;96 kind, a grape which requires 
no potting, but will keep perfectly well if left on the vine, so 
remarkable is the strength with which it is endowed for with- 
standing the effects of cold, heat, and stormy weather. The 
" orthampelos," 97 too, is a vine that requires neither tree nor 
stay, as it is well able to sustain its own weight. This, how- 
ever, is not the case with the " dactylis," 98 the stem of which 
is no thicker than the finger. The " coiumbina" 99 is one of 
those with the finest clusters, and still more so is the purple 
" bimammia ;*' it does not bear in clusters, 1 but only secondary 
bunches. There is the tripedanea, 2 too, a name which it owes 
to the length of its clusters, and the scirpula, 3 with its shrivelled 
berry ; the Rhaetica, 4 too, so called in the Maritime Alps, though 
very different from the grape of that name which is so highly 
esteemed, and of which we have previously spoken ; for in 
this variety the clusters are small, the grapes lie closely packed, 

the name, probably. Fee suggests that it may have originated in the not 
uncommon practice of letting the bunches hang after they were ripe, and 
then twisting them, which was thought to increase the juice. 

93 In the modern Marches of Ancona. 

94 Georgics, ii. 91, et seq. 

Sunt Thasia; vites, sunt et Mareotides albse : 

Et passo Psithia utilior. tenuisque Lageos, 
Tentatura pedes olim, vincturaque linguam, 
Purpurea?, Preciseque 

95 A muscatel, Fee thinks. 

96 o r "hard-berried." Fee thinks that the maroquin, or Morocco 
grape, called the "pied de poule" (or fowl's foot), at Montpellier, may be 
the duracinus. 

97 Or "upright vine." In Anjou and Herault the vines are of similar 

98 The "finger-like" vine. 99 The "pigeon " vine. 

1 Though very fruitful, it does not bear in large clusters (racemi), but 
only in small bunches (uvae). 

2 The " three-foot" vine. 

3 Perhaps meaning the " rush" grape, from its shrivelled appearance. 

4 See c. 3 of this Book. 


and it produces but a poor wine. It has, however, the thin- 
nest skin of all the grapes, and a single stone, 5 of very dimi- 
nutive size, which is known as the " Chian ;" 6 one or two of 
the grapes on the cluster are remarkably large. There is also 
the black Aminean, to which the name of Syriaca is given : 
the Spanish vine, too, the very best of all those of inferior 

The grapes that are known as escariae, 7 are grown on trel- 
lises. Of the duracinus 8 kind, there are those known as the 
white and the black varieties ; the bumastus, too, is similarly 
distinguished in colour. Among the vines too, that have 
not as yet been mentioned, there are the ^Egian and the 
Ehodian 9 kinds, as also the uncialis, so called, it would seem, 
from its grape being an ounce in weight. There is the picina 10 
too, the blackest 11 grape known, and the stephanitis, 12 the 
clusters of which Nature, in a sportive mood, has arranged in 
the form of a garland, the leaves being interspersed 13 among 
the grapes; there are the grapes, too, known as the "forenses," 14 
and which quickly come to maturity, recommend themselves 
to the buyer by their good looks, and are easily carried from 
place to place. 

On the other hand, those known as the "cinerea" 15 are 
condemned by their very looks, and so are the rabuscula 16 and 
the asinusca ; n the produce of the alopecis, 18 which resembles 
in colour a fox's tail, is held in less disesteem. The Alexan- 
dria 19 is the name of a vine that grows in the vicinity of Pha- 

5 The ordinary number of pips or stones is five. It is seldom that we 
find but one. Virgil mentions this grape, Georg. ii. 95. 

6 " Chium." This reading is doubtful. Fee says that between ISTarni 
and Terni, eight leagues from Spoleto, a small grape is found, without 
stones. It is called "uva passa," or "passerina." So, too, the Sultana 
raisin of commerce. 

7 " Grown for the table." 8 Or "hard-berry." 

9 Mentioned by Virgil, Georg. ii. 101. 10 Or pitch-grape. 

11 Perhaps the "noirant," or "teinturier" of the French. 

12 Or "garland-clustered" vine. 

13 Fee says that this is sometimes accidentally the case, but is not the 
characteristic of any variety now known. 

14 Or "market-grapes." 

15 The "ash-coloured." ™ The "russet-coloured." 
17 Probably so called from its grey colour, like that of the ass. 

is Or "fox" vine. This variety is unknown. 

13 So called from Alexandria, in Troas, not in Egypt. Phalacra was 
iu the vicinity of Mount Ida. 

Cliap. 5.] 


lacra : it is of stunted growth, and has branches a cubit in 
length; the grape is black, about the size of a bean, with a 
berry that is soft, and remarkably small : the clusters hang in 
a slanting direction, and are remarkably sweet ; the leaves are 
small and round, without any division. 20 "Within the last 
seven years there has been introduced at Alba Helvia, 21 in the 
province of Gallia Narbonensis, a vine which blossoms but a 
single day, and is consequently proof against all accidents : 
the name given to it is " Narbonica," and it is now planted 
throughout the whole of that province. 



The elder Cato, who was rendered more particularly illus- 
trious by his triumph 23 and the censorship, and even more so 
by his literary fame, and the precepts which he has given to 
the Eoman people upon every subject of utility, and the 
proper methods of cultivation in particular ; a man who, by 
the universal confession, was the first husbandman of his age 
and without a rival — has mentioned a few varieties only of 
the vine, the very names of some of which are by this utterly 
forgotten. 23 His statement on this subject deserves our 
separate consideration, and requires to be quoted at length, in 
order that we may make ourselves acquainted with the differ- 
ent varieties of this tree that were held in the highest esteem 
in the year of the City of Rome 600, about the time of the 
capture of Carthage and Corinth, the period of his death : it 
will show too, what great advances civilization has made in 
the last two hundred and thirty years. The following are the 
remarks which he has made on the subject of the vine and the 

20 As the leaves of the vine are universally divided, it has been considered 
by many of the commentators that this is not in reality a vine, but the 
Arbutus uva ursi of Linnaeus. The fruit, however, of that ericaceous 
plant is remarkably acrid, and not sweet, as Pliny states. Fee rejects this 

21 Aubenas, in the Vivarais, according to Hardouin ; Alps, according to 
Brotier. We must reject this assertion as fabulous. 

22 In B.C. 194, for his successes in Spain. 

23 Mode of culture, locality, climate, and other extraneous circumstances, 
work, no doubt, an entire change in the nature of the vine. 

234 flint's natural history. 

[Book XIV. 

"Where the site is considered to be most favourable to the 
growth of the vine, and exposed to the warmth of the sun, 
you will do well to plant the small 24 Aminean, as well as the 
two eugenia, 25 and the smaller helvia. 26 On the other hand, 
where the soil is of a denser nature or more exposed to fogs, 
the greater Aminean should be planted, or else the Murgen- 
tine, 27 or the Apician of Lucania. The other varieties of the 
grape are, for the most part, adapted to any kind of soil ; they 
are best preserved in a lora. 28 The best for keeping by hang- 
ing, are the duracinus kind, the greater Aminean, and the 
Seantian; 29 these, too, will make excellent raisins for keeping 
if dried at the blacksmith's forge." There are no precepts in 
the Latin language on this subject more ancient than these, so 
near are we to the very commencement of all our practical 
knowledge ! The Aminean grape, of which mention has been 
made above, is by Yarro called the " Seantian." 

In our own times we have but few instances of any consum- 
mate skill that has been manifested in reference to this subject : 
the less excuse then should we have for omitting any particular 
which^ may tend to throw a light upon the profits that may 
be derived from the culture of the vine, a point which on all 
occasions is regarded as one of primary importance. Acilius 
Sthenelus, a man of plebeian rank, and the. son of a freedman, 
acquired very considerable repute from the cultivation of a vine- 
yard in the territory of Momentum, not more than sixty jugera 
in extent, and which he finally sold for four hundred thousand 
sesterces. Vetulenus iEgialus too, a freedman as well, ac- 
quired very considerable note in the district of Liternum, 30 in 
Campania, and, indeed, received a more extensive share of 
the public favour, from the fact that he cultivated the spot 

24 Probably tbe first of the five that he has mentioned in c. 4. 

25 He has only mentioned one sort in c. 4. 

26 See c. 4. 27 g ee c 4> 

28 "We have no corresponding word for this beverage in the English 
language— a thin, poor liquor, made by pouring water on the husks and 
stalks after being fully pressed, allowing them to soak, pressing them again, 
and then fermenting the liquor. It was also called "vinum operarium," 
or " labourer's wine." As stated in the present instance, grapes were 
sometimes stored in it for keeping. 

23 A variety of the Aminean, as stated below. 

30 See B. iii. c. 9. 

Chap. 5.] CULTURE OF THE VINE. 235 

which had been the place of exile of Scipio Africanus. 81 The 
greatest celebrity of all, however, was that which, by the 
agency of the same Sthenelus, was accorded to Ehemmius 
Palremon, who was also equally famous as a learned gram- 
marian. This person bought, some twenty years ago, an estate 
at the price of six hundred thousand sesterces in the same 
district of Momentum, about ten miles distant from the City of 
Rome. The low price of property 3i in the suburbs, on every 
side of the City, is well known ; but in that quarter in particu- 
lar, it had declined to a most remarkable extent; for the 
estate which he purchased had become deteriorated by long- 
continued neglect, in addition to which it was situate in the 
very worst part of a by no means favourite locality. 33 Such 
was the nature of the property of which he thus undertook the 
cultivation, not, indeed, with any commendable views or mten- 
tions at first, but merely in that spirit of vanity for which he 
was notorious in so remarkable a degree. The vineyards were 
all duly dressed afresh, and hoed, under the superintendence of 
Sthenelus ; the result of which was that Palsemon, while thus 
playing the husbandman, brought this estate to such an almost 
incredible pitch of perfection, that at the end of eight years 
the vintage, as it hung on the trees, was knocked down to a 
purchaser for the sum of four hundred thousand sesterces; 
while all the world was running to behold the heaps upon heaps 
of grapes to be seen in these vineyards. The neighbours, by 
way of finding some excuse for their own indolence, gave all 
the credit of this remarkable success to Palsemon's profound 
erudition; and at last Annseus Seneca, 34 who both held the 
highest rank in the learned world, and an amount of power and 
influence which at last proved too much for him — this same 
Seneca, who was far from being an admirer of frivolity, was 
seized with such vast admiration of this estate, as not to feel 
ashamed at conceding this victory to a man who was other- 
wise the object of his hatred, and who would be sure to make 
the very most of it, by giving him four times the original cost 

31 The elder Africanus. He retired in voluntary exile to his country- 
Beat at Liternum, where he died. 

32 Mercis. 

33 The suggestion of Sillig has heen adopted, for the ordinary reading 
is evidently corrupt, and absurd as well — " not in the very worst part of a 
favourite locality" — just the converse of the whole tenor of the story. 

34 The philosopher, and tutor of Nero. 

236 pliny's natural histoky. [Book XIV. 

for those very vineyards, and that within ten years from the 
time that he had taken them under his management. This 
was an example of good husbandry worthy to be put in 
practice upon the lands of Csecuba and of Setia ; for since then 
these same lands have many a time produced as much as seven 
culei to the jugerum, or in other words, one hundred and forty 
amphorae of must. That no one, however, may entertain the 
belief that ancient times were surpassed on this occasion, I 
would remark that the same Cato has stated in his writings, that 
the proper return was seven culei to the jugerum : all of them 
so many instances only tending most convincingly to prove 
that the sea, which in our rashness we trespass upon, does not 
make a more bounteous return to the merchant, no, not even 
the merchandize that we seek on the shores of the Red and 
the Indian Seas, than does a well-tilled homestead to the 


The wine of Maronea, 35 on the coast of Thrace, appears to 
have been the most celebrated in ancient times, as we learn 
from the writings of Homer. I dismiss, however, all the fa- 
bulous stories and various traditions which we find relative to 
its origin, except, indeed, the one which states that Aristseus, 36 a 
native of the same country, was the first person that mixed 
honey 37 with wine, natural productions, both of them, of the 
highest degree of excellence. Homer 38 has stated that the 
Maronean wine was mixed with water in the proportion of 
twenty measures of water to one of wine. The wine that is 
still produced in the same district retains all its former 
strength, and a degree of vigour that is quite insuperable. 39 
Mucianus, who thrice held the consulship, and one of our 
most recent authors, when in that part of the world was 
witness himself to the fact, that with one sextarius of this 
wine it was the custom to mix no less than eighty sextarii of 

35 Said to have been so called from Maron, a king of Thrace, who dwelt 
in the vicinity of the Thracian Ismarus. See B. iv. c. 18. Homer men- 
tions this wine in the Odyssey, B. ix. c. 197, et seq. It was red, honey- 
sweet, fragrant. The place is still called Marogna, in Roumelia, a country 
the wines of which are still much esteemed. 

36 See B. vii. c. 57. 37 Thus making "mulsuni." 
3S B. ix. c. 208. 33 Indomitus. 


water : he states, also, that this wine is black, 40 has a strong 
bouquet, and is all the richer for being old. 

The Pramnian wine, too, which Homer 41 has also similarly 
eulogized, still retains its ancient fame : it is grown in the 
territory of Smyrna, in the vicinity of the shrine of the 
Mother 12 of the Gods. 

Among the other wines now known, we do not find any 
that enjoyed a high reputation in ancient times. In the 
year of the consulship of L. Opimius, when C. Gracchus, 43 the 
tribune of the people, engaging in sedition, was slain, the 
growth of every wine was of the very highest quality. In 
that year, the weather was remarkable for its sereneness, and 
the ripening of the grape, the "coctura," 44 as they call it, 
was fully effected by the heat of the sun. This was in the 
year of the City 633. There are wines still preserved of this 
year's growth, nearly two hundred years ago; they have 
assumed the consistency of honey, with a rough taste ; for 
such, in fact, is the nature of wines, that, when extremely 
old, it is impossible to drink them in a pure state ; and they 
require to be mixed with water, as long keeping renders them 
intolerably bitter. 45 A very small quantity of the Opimian 
wine, mixed with them, will suffice for the seasoning of other 
wines. Let us suppose, according to the estimated value of 
these wines in those days, that the original price of them was 
one hundred sesterces per amphora : if we add to this six per 
cent, per annum, a legal and moderate interest, we shall 
then be able to ascertain what was the exact price of the 
twelfth part of an amphora at the beginning of the reign of 
Caius Ca9sar, the son of Germanicus, one hundred and sixty 
years after that consulship. In relation to this fact, we have 
a remarkable instance, 46 when we call to mind the life of Pom- 

40 By " black " wines lie means those that had the same colour as our 
port. 41 II. xi. 638. Od. x. 234. 

42 Cybele. A wine called " Pramnian " was also grown in the island of 
Icaria, in Lesbos, and in the territory of Ephesus. The scholiast on Ni- 
cander says that the grape of the psythia was used in making it. Dios- 
corides says that it was a "protropum," first-class wine, made of the juice 
that voluntarily flowed from the grapes, in consequence of their own pres- 
sure. M B.C. 121. 

44 "Cooking," literally, or "boiling." 

45 The wines of Burgundy, in particular, become bitter when extremely 
old. 46 See B. vii. c. 18. 

238 plint's natueal history. [Book XIV. 

ponius Secundus, the poet, and the banquet which he gave 
to that prince 47 — so enormous is the capital that lies buried in 
our cellars of wine ! Indeed, there is no one thing, the value 
of which more sensibly increases up to the twentieth year, or 
which decreases with greater rapidity after that period, sup- 
posing that the value of it is not by that time greatly en- 
hanced. 48 Yery rarely, indeed, up to the present day, has it 
been known for a single 49 piece of wine to cost a thousand 
sesterces, except, indeed, when such a sum may have been paid 
in a fit of extravagance and debauchery. The people of 
Yienne, it is said, are the only ones who have set a higher price 
than this upon their " picata," wines, the various kinds of 
which we have already mentioned ; M and this, it is thought, 
they only do, vying with each other, and influenced by a sort 
of national self-esteem. This wine, drunk in a cool state, is 
generally thought to be of a colder 51 temperature than any 


It is the property of wine, when drunk, to cause a feeling 
of warmth in the interior of the viscera, and, when poured 
upon the exterior of the body, to be cool and refreshing. It 
will not be foreign to my purpose on the present occasion to 
state the advice which Androcydes, a man famous for his 
wisdom, wrote to Alexander the Great, with the view of put- 
ting a check on his intemperance : " When you are about to 
drink wine, king !" said he, "remember that you are about 
to drink the blood of the earth : hemlock is a poison to man, 
wine a poison 52 to hemlock." And if Alexander had only fol- 
lowed this advice, he certainly would not have had to answer 

47 Caligula. 

48 By some remarkable and peculiar quality, such as in the Opimian 
wine. 49 " Testa," meaning the amphora. 

50 See c. 3 of the present Book, where these "picata," or "pitched- 
wines," have been further described. 

51 On the contrary, Fee says, the coldest wines are those that contain 
the least alcohol, whereas those of Vienne (in modern Dauphine) contain 
more than the majority of wines. 

52 He implies that wine is an antidote to the poisonous effects of hem- 
lock. This is not the case, but it is said by some that vinegar is. It is 
the plant hemlock (cicuta) that is meant, and not the fatal draught that 
was drunk by Socrates and Philopcemen. See further in B. xxiii. c. 23, 
and B. xxv. c. 95. 

Chap. 8.] FIFTY KINDS OP WINES. 239 

for slaying his friends 53 in his drunken fits. In fact, we may- 
feel ourselves quite justified in saying that there is nothing 
more useful than wine for strengthening the body, while, at 
the same time, there is nothing more pernicious as a luxury, 
if we are not on our guard against excess. 


Who can entertain a doubt that some kinds of wine are 
more agreeable to the palate than others, or that even out 
of the very same vat 54 there are occasionally produced wines 
that are by no means of equal goodness, the one being much 
superior to the other, whether it is that it is owing to the 
cask, 55 or to some other fortuitous circumstance ? Let each 
person, therefore, constitute himself his own judge as to which 
kind it is that occupies the pre-eminence. Li via 56 Augusta, 
who lived to her eighty-second year, 57 attributed her longevity 
to the wine of Pucinum, 68 as she never drank any other. This 
wine is grown near a bay of the Adriatic, not far from Mount 
Timavus, upon a piece of elevated rocky ground, where the 
sea-breeze ripens a few grapes, the produce of which supplies 
a few amphorae : there is not a wine that is deemed superior 
to this for medicinal purposes. I am strongly of opinion that 
this is the same wine, the produce of the Adriatic Gulf, upon 
which the Greeks have bestowed such wonderful encomiums, 
under the name of Praetetianum. 

The late Emperor Augustus preferred the Setinum to all 
others, and nearly all the emperors that have succeeded him 
have followed his example, having learnt from actual expe- 
rience that there is no danger of indigestion and flatulence 
resulting from the use of this liquor : this wine is grown in 
the country 59 that lies just above Forum Appii. 60 In former 
times the Csecubum enjoyed the reputation of being the most 

53 Clitus and Callisthenes. 5i Lacus. 

55 The testa or amphora, made of earth. 

56 As the wife of Augustus is meant, this reading appears preferable to 
" Julia." 

57 Dion Cassius says " eighty-sixth." 

58 See B. iii. c. 22, and B. xvii. c. 3. Pucinum was in Istria, and the 
district is said still to produce good wine ; according to Dalechamps, the 
place is called Pizzino d' Istria. 

59 The hills of Setia, looking down on the Pomptine Marshes : now 
Sezza, the wine of which is of no repute. 

eo See B. iii. c. 9. 


generous of all the wines; it was grown in some marshy 
swamps, planted with poplars, in the vicinity 61 of the Gulf of 
Amyclse. This vineyard has, however, now disappeared, the 
result of the carelessness of the cultivator, combined with its 
own limited extent, and the works on the canal which Nero 
commenced, in order to provide a navigation from Lake Aver- 
nus to Ostia. 

The second rank belonged to the wine of the Falernian ter- 
ritory, of which the Faustianum was the most choice variety ; 
the result of the care and skill employed upon its cultivation. 
This, however, has also degenerated very considerably, in con- 
sequence of the growers being more solicitous about quantity 63 
than quality. The Falernian 63 vineyards begin at the bridge of 
Campania, on the left-hand as you journey towards the Urbana 
Colonia of Sylla, which was lately a township of the city of 
Capua. As to the Faustian vineyards, they extend about four 
miles from a village near CaBdiciae, 64 the same village being six 
miles from Sinuessa. There is now no wine known that ranks 
higher than the Falernian ; it is the only one, too, among all 
the wines that takes fire on the application of llame. 65 There 
are three varieties of it — the rough, the sweet, and the thin. 
Some persons make the following distinctions : the Caucinum, 
they say, grows on the summit of this range of hills, the Faus- 
tianum on the middle slopes, and the Falemum at the foot : 
the fact, too, should not be omitted, that none of the grapes 
that produce these more famous wines have by any means an 
agreeable flavour. 

To the third 66 rank belonged the various wines of Alba, in the 
vicinity of the City, remarkable for their sweetness, and some- 

6-1 See B. iii. c. 9. Between Fundi and Setia; a locality now of no 
repute for its wines. In B. xxiii. c. 19, Pliny says, that the Csecuban vine 
was extinct : but in B. xvii. c. 3, he says that in the Pomptine Marshes it 
was to be found. 

62 This was the case, it has been remarked, with Madeira some years ago. 

63 This is the most celebrated of all the ancient wines, as being more 
especially the theme of the poets. 

64 See B. xi. c. 97. The wines of the Falernian district are no longer 
held in any esteem ; indeed, all the Campanian wines are sour, and of a 
disagreeable flavour. 

65 It appears to have been exceedingly rich in alcohol. 

66 But in B. xxiii. c. 20, he assigns the first rank to the Albanum ; pos- 
sibly, however, as a medicinal wine. The wines of Latium are no longer 
held in esteem. 

Chap. 8.] FIFTY KINDS OF WINES. 241 

times, though rarely, rough 67 as well : the Surrentine 68 wines, 
also, the growth of only stayed vines, which are especially 
recommended to invalids for their thinness and their^ whole- 
someness. Tiberius Caesar used to say that the physicians had 
conspired thus to dignify the Surrentinum, which was, in fact, 
only another name for generous vinegar ; while Caius Csesar, 
who succeeded him, gave it the name of " noble vappa." 69 
Tying in reputation with these are the Massic wines, from the 
spots which look from Mount Gaurus towards Puteoli and 
Baia3. 70 As to the wines of Stata, in the vicinity of Falernum, 
there is no doubt that they formerly held the very highest 
rank, a fact which proves very clearly that every district has 
its own peculiar epochs, just as all other things have their rise 
and their decadence. The Calenian 71 wines, too, from the same 
neighbourhood, used to be preferred to those last mentioned, 
as also the Fundanian, 72 the produce of vines grown on stays, 
or else attached to shrubs. The wines, too, of Yeliternum' 3 
and Priverna, 74 which were grown in the vicinity of the City, 
used to be highly esteemed. As to that produced at Signia, 75 
it is by far too rough to be used as a wine, but is very useful 
as an astringent, and is consequently reckoned among the 
medicines for that purpose. 

The fourth rank, at the public banquets, was given by the 
late Emperor Julius — he was the first, in fact, that brought 

87 See B. xxiii. c. 21. 

68 From Surrentum, the promontory forming the southern horn of the 
Bay of Naples. Ovid and Martial speak in praise of these wines ; they 
were destitute of richness and very dry, in consequence of which they re- 
quired twenty-five years to ripen. 

69 Or " dead vinegar." " Vappa" was vinegar exposed to the air, and so 
destitute of its properties, and quite insipid. 

70 Excellent wines are still produced in the vicinity of this place. Mas- 
sicum was one of the perfumed wines. Gaurus itsellproduced the " Gau- 
ranum," in small quantity, hut of high quality, full-bodied and thick. 

71 For the Calenian Hills, see B. hi. c. 9 ; see also B. xxiii. c. 12, for 
some further account of the wines of Stata. The wines of that district are 
now held iu no esteem. 

72 From Fundi. See B. iii. c. 9. 

73 Now Castel del Volturno : although covered with vineyards, its wines 
are of no account. This wine always tasted as if mixed with some foreign 

74 Now Piperno. It was a thin and pleasant wine. 

75 Now Segni, in the States of the Church. 


242 plint's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XIV. 

them into favour, as we find stated in his Letters 76 — to the 
Mamertine wines, the produce of the country in the vicinity 
of Messana, 77 in Sicily. The finest of these was the Potu- 
lanum, 78 so called from its original cultivator, and grown on 
the spots that lie nearest to the mainland of Italy. The Tau- 
romenitanum also, a wine of Sicily, enjoys a high repute, and 
flaggons 79 of it are occasionally passed off for Mamertmuin. 

Among the other wines, we find mentioned upon the Upper 
Sea those of Praetutia and Ancona, as also those known as 
the "Palmensia," 80 not improbably because the cluster springs 
from a single shoot. 81 In the interior we find the wines of 
Caesena 82 and that known as the Meecenatian, 83 while in the 
territory of Verona there are the Rhaetian wines, only inferior, 
in the estimation of Virgil, to the Falernian. 84 Then, too, at 
the bottom of the Gulf 85 we find the wines of Adria. 86 _ On 
the shores of the Lower Sea there are the Latmiensian 8 ' 
wines, the Graviscan, 88 and the Statonian : 89 in Etruria, the 
wines of Luna bear away the palm, and those of Genua 9 m 
Liguria. Massilia, which lies between the Pyrenees and the 
Alps, produces two varieties of wine, one of which is richer 
and thicker than the other, and is used for seasoning other 
wines, being generally known as " succosum." 91 The repu- 
te Written to the Senate, also to Cicero. We learn from Suetonius that 
they were partly written in cipher. 

" Messina, at the present day, exports wines of very good quality, ana 
which attain a great age. 

78 It was sound, light, and not without hody. 

™ "Lagenoe." The same spot, now Taormina in Sicily, between Latama 
and Messina, still produces excellent wines. 

«> See B. iii. c. 18. Fee says that this is thought to have been the 
wine of Syrol, of last century, grown near Ancona. 

si " Palma." Notwithstanding this suggestion, it is more generally sup- 
posed that they had their name from the place called Palma, near Marano, 
on the Adriatic. Its wines are still considered of agreeable flavour. 

sa The wines of modern Cezena enjoy no repute, owing, probably, to the 
mode of making them. 

83 Probably so called because it was Drought into fashion by Maecenas. 

a* See Georg. ii. 95. The wines of the Tyrol, the ancient Rhsetia, are 
still considered as of excellent quality. 

85 Of Adria, or the Adriatic Sea. 

86 See B. iii. c. 20. These wines are of little repute. 

87 In Latium. See B. iii. c. 9. 

88 From Graviscse. See B. iii. c. 8. 

89 See B ii. c. 96, B. iii. c. 9, and B. xxxvi. c. 49. 

so The wines of Genoa are of middling quality only, and but little known. 
9i Or "juicy" wine. 

Chap. 8.] 


tation of the wine of Beterrse 92 does not extend beyond the 
Gallic territories ; 93 and as for the others that are produced in 
Gallia Narbonensis, nothing can be positively stated, for the 
growers of that country have absolutely established manufac- 
tories for the purposes of adulteration, where they give a dark 
hue to their wines by the agency of smoke ; I only wish I 
could say, too, that they do not employ various herbs and 
noxious drugs for the same purpose ; 94 indeed, these dealers are 
even known to use aloes for the purpose of heightening the 
flavour and improving the colour of their wines. 

The regions of Italy that are at a greater distance from the 
Ausonian Sea, are not without their wines of note, such as 
those of Tarentum, 95 Servitia, 96 and Consentia, 97 and those, again, ^ 
of Tempsa, Babia, and Lucania, among which the wines of 
Thurii hold the pre-eminence. But the most celebrated of all 
of them, owing to the fact that Messala 98 used to drink it, and 
was indebted to it for his excellent health, was the wine 
of Lagara," which was grown not far from Grumentum. 1 In 
Campania, more recently, new growths under new names have 
gained considerable credit, either owing to careful cultivation, 
or else to some other fortuitous circumstances : thus, for in- 
stance, we find four miles from Neapolis the Trebellian, 2 near 

92 Now Bsziers, in the south of France. The wines of this part are 
considered excellent at the present day. That of Frontignan grows m its 
vicinity. Fee is inclined to think, from Pliny's remarks here, that the 
ancients and the moderns differed entirely in their notions as to what con- 
stitutes good or bad wine. . . 

w He means, beyond modern Provence, and Languedoc : districts fa- 
mous for their excellent wines, more particularly the latter. 

9i Fee deems all this quite incredible. Our English experience, however, 
tells us that it is by no means so ; much of the wine that is drunk in this 
country is indebted for flavour as well as colour to anything but the grape. 

95 The wines of modern Otranto are ordinarily of good quality^ 

96 Baccius reads " Seberiniana," but is probably wrong. If he is not, it 
mio-ht allude to the place now known as San Severmo, and which produces 
excellent wine. Fee thinks that these wines were grown m the territory 
of Salerno, which still enjoys celebrity for its muscatel wmes _ 

97 See B. iii. c. 10. the wines of modern Cosenza still enjoy a high 
reputation. . „ . 

9* M. Valerius Messala Corvinus, the writer and partisan ot Augustus. 

See end of B. ix. . .. 

99 A place supposed to have been situated near I hum. 

1 See B. iii. c. 15. „, 

2 Said by Galen to be very wholesome, as well as pleasant, lhe wines 
of the vicinity of Naples are still held in high esteem. 

E 2 

244 pltny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

Capua the Cauline, 3 wine, and the wine of Trebula 4 grown in 
the territory so called, though but of a common sort : Campania 
boasts of all these, as well as of her Trifoline 5 wines. As to 
the wines of Pompeii, 6 they have arrived at their full perfection 
in ten years, after which they gain nothing by age : they are 
found also to be productive of headache, which often lasts 
so long as the sixth hour 7 of the next day. 

These illustrations, if I am not greatly mistaken, will go far 
to prove that it is the land and the soil that is of primary 
importance, and not the grape, and that it is quite superfluous 
to attempt to enumerate all the varieties of every kind, seeing 
that the same vine, transplanted to several places, is productive 
of features and characteristics of quite opposite natures. The 
vineyards of Laletanum 8 in Spain 9 are remarkable for the 
abundance of wine they produce, while those of Tarraco 10 and 
of Lauron 11 are esteemed for the choice qualities of their 
wines : those, too, of the Balearic Isles 12 are often put in com- 
parison with the very choicest growths of Italy. 

I am by no means unaware that most of my readers will be 
of opinion that I have omitted a vast number of wines, seeing 
that every one has his own peculiar choice ; so much so, that 
wherever we go, we hear the same story told, to the effect 
that one of the freedmen of the late Emperor Augustus, who 
was remarkable for his judgment and his refined taste in wines, 
while employed in tasting for his master's table, made this 
observation to the master of the house where the emperor 
was staying, in reference to some wine the growth of that 
particular country: " The taste of this wine," said he, "is 

3 Galen savs that it was very similar to the Falernian. 

4 See B. ii'i. c. 9. 

5 The Trifoline territory was in the vicinity of Curaae. It is possible 
that the wine may have had its name from taking three years to come to 
maturity ; or possibly it was owing to some peculiarity in the vine. 

6 They have been already mentioned in c. 4. See B. iii. c. 9. 

7 Twelve o'clock in the day. 

8 See B. iii. c. 4, 

9 In Catalonia, which still produces abundance of wine, but in general 
of inferior repute. 

10 The wines of Tarragona are still considered good. 

II A place in the province of Hispania Tarraconensis, destroyed by Ser- 

12 They still enjoy a high repute. The fame of their Malvoisie has 
extended all over the world. 

Chap. 9.] FOREIGN WINES. 245 

new to me, and it is by no means of first-rate quality ; the 
emperor, however, you will see, will drink of no other." 13 
Indeed I have no wish to deny that there may be other wines 
deserving of a very high reputation, but those which I have 
already enumerated are the varieties upon the excellence of 
which the world is at present agreed. 


We will now, in a similar manner, give a description of the 
varieties found in the parts beyond sea. After the wines 
mentioned by Homer, and of which we have already spoken, 14 
those held in the highest esteem were the wines of Thasos 
and Chios, 15 and of the latter more particularly the sort known 
as " Arvisium." 16 By the side of these has been placed the 
wine of Lesbos, 17 upon the authority of Erasistratus, a famous 
physician, who flourished about the year of the City of Rome 
450. At the present day, the most esteemed of all is the wine 
of ClazomenaB, 18 since they have learned to season it more 
sparingly with sea-water. The wine of Lesbos has naturally 
a taste of sea- water. That from Mount Tmolus 19 is not so 
much esteemed by itself 20 for its qualities as a wine, as for its 
peculiar sweetness. It is on account of this that it is mixed 
with other wines, for the purpose of modifying their harsh 
flavour, by imparting to them a portion of its own sweetness ; 
while at the same time it gives them age, for immediately 
after the mixture they appear to be much older than they 
really are. Next in esteem after these are the wines of 

13 He means to illustrate the capricious tastes that existed as to the 
merits of wines. u In c. 6 of this Book. 

15 The Chian held the first rank, the Thasian the second. 

16 From Arvisium, or Ariusium, a hilly district in the centre of the 
island.- The wine of Chios still retains its ancient celebrity. 

17 It was remarkable for its sweetness, and aromatics were sometimes 
mixed with it. Homer calls it harmless. Lesbos still produces choice 
wines. . . 

18 Near Smyrna. Probably similar to the Pramnian wine, mentioned 

in c. 6. 

19 See B. v. c. 30. This wine is mentioned again in the next page ; it is 
generally thought, that he is wrong in making the Tmolites and the Meso- 
gites distinct wines, for they are supposed to have been identical. 

20 If drunk by itself, and not as a flavouring for other wines. 

246 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

Sicyon, 21 Cyprus/ 22 Telmessus, 23 Tripolis, 24 Berytus, 25 Tyre, 26 
and Sebennys ; this last is grown in Egypt, being the produce 
of three varieties of grape of the very highest quality, known 
as the Thasian, 27 the sethalus, 28 and the peuce. 29 Next in 
rank are the hippodamantian 30 wine, the Mystic, 31 the can- 
tharite, 32 the protropum 33 of Cnidos, the wine of the catace- 
caumene, 34 the Petritan, 35 and the Myconian; 36 as to the 
Mesogitic, 37 it has been found to give head-ache, while that of 
Ephesus is far from wholesome, being seasoned with sea-water 
and defrutum. 38 It is said that the wine of Apamea 39 is re- 
markably well adapted for making mulsum, 40 like that of Prae- 
tutia in Italy : for this is a quality peculiar to only certain 
kinds of wine, the mixture of two sweet liquids being in 

21 Bacchus had a temple there. 

22 The wines of Cyprus are the most choice of all the Grecian wines at 
the present day. 23 In Lycia. 

24 In Syria. "Wine is no longer made there, but the grapes are excel- 
lent, and are dried for raisins. 

25 Now Beyrout. It does not seem that wine is made there now. The 
Mahometan religion may have tended to the extinction of many of these 

26 At the village of Sour, on the site of ancient Tyre, the grape is only 
cultivated for raisins. 

27 See also c. 22 : probably introduced from Thasos. 

28 The "smoky" grape. 29 The "pitchy" grape. 

80 A strong wine, Hardouin thinks, from whence its name — "strong 
enough to subdue a horse." 

31 From the small island of Mystus, near Cephallenia. 

82 So called from the vine the name of which was " canthareus." 

33 Made, as already stated, from the juice that flowed spontaneously from 
the grapes. See also p. 250. 

34 Or the "burnt up" country, a volcanic district of Mysia, which still 
retains its ancient fame for its wine. Virgil alludes to this wine in 
Georg. iv. 1. 380 :— 

— Cape Mseonii carchesia Bacchi. 

35 Perhaps from Petra in Arabia : though Fee suggests Petra in the 
Balearic Islands. 

36 See B. iv. c. 22. In the island of Myconos in the Archipelago an ex- 
cellent wine is still grown. 

37 From Mount Mesogis, which divides the tributaries of the Cayster 
from those of the Meander. It is generally considered the same as the 

38 Must or grape-juice boiled down to one half. 
» See B. v. c. 29. 

40 " Mulsum," or honied wine, was of two kinds ; honey mixed with 
wine, and honey mixed with must or grape-juice. 

Chap. 10.] 


general not attended with good results. The protagion 41 is 
quite gone out of date, a wine which the school of Asclepiades 
has reckoned as next in merit to those of Italy. The physician 
Apollodorus, in the work which he wrote recommending King 
Ptolemy what wines in particular to drink— for in his time 
the wines of Italy were not generally known— has spoken in 
high terms of that of Naspercene in Pontus, next to which he 
places the Oretic, 42 and then the (Eneatian, 43 the Leucadian, 44 
the Ambraciotic, 45 and the Peparethian, 46 to which last he gives 
the preference over all the rest, though he states that it en- 
joyed an inferior reputation, from the fact of its not being 
considered fit for drinking until it had been kept six years. 


Thus far we have treated of wines, the goodness of which is 
due to the country of their growth. In Greece the wine that 
is known by the name of " bion," and which is administered 
for its curative qualities in several maladies (as we shall have 
occasion to remark when we come to speak on the subject of 
Medicine 47 ), has been justly held in the very highest esteem. 
This wine is made in the following manner : the grapes are 
plucked before they are quite ripe, and then dried in a hot 
sun : for three days they are turned three times a day, and on 
the fourth day they are pressed, after which the juice is put 
in casks, 48 and left to acquire age in the heat of the sun. 49 

The people of Cos mix sea- water in large quantities with 
their wines, an invention which they first learned from a slave, 
who adopted this method of supplying the deficiency that had 
been caused by his thievish propensities. When this is mixed 
with white must, the mixture receives the name of "leu- 

41 From its Greek name, it would seem to mean " of first quality." 

« So called from a place in Eubcea, the modern Negropont. See. B. iv. 
c. 20. Negropont produces good wines at the present day. 

43 The locality is unknown. 

« From Leucadia, or Leucate ; see B. iv. c. 2 ; the vine was very abun- 
dant there. 

45 From Ambracia. See B. iv. c 2. 

« From the island of Peparethus. See. B. iv. c. 23, where he says that 
from its abundance of vines it was called ivoivog, or " Evenus." 

47 B. xxiii. c. 1, and c. 26. 48 " Cadis." 

49 Fee remarks that this method is still adopted in making several of 
the liqueurs. 

248 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

cocoum." 50 In other countries again, they follow a similar 
plan in making a wine called " tethalassomenon." 51 They 
make a wine also known as " thalassites," 52 by placing vessels 
full of must in the sea, a method which quickly imparts to the 
wine all the qualities of old age. 53 In our own country too, 
Cato has shown the method of making Italian wine into Coan : 
in addition to the modes of preparation above stated, he tells us 
that it must be left exposed four years to the heat of the sun, 
in order to bring it to maturity. The Rhodian 54 wine is 
similar to that of Cos, and the Phorinean is of a still salter 
flavour. It is generally thought that all the wines from 
beyond sea arrive at their middle state of maturity in the 
course of six 55 or seven years. 



All the luscious wines have but little 56 aroma : the thinner 
the wine the more aroma it has. The colours of wines are 
four, white," brown, 58 blood-coloured, 59 and black. 60 Psythium 61 
and melampsythium 62 are varieties of raisin- wine which have 
the peculiar flavour of the grape, and not that of wine. Scy- 
belites 63 is a wine grown in Galatia, and Aluntium 64 is a 
wine of Sicily, both of which have the flavour of mulsum. 65 

ro "White wine of Cos. Fee thinks that Pliny means to say that the sea 
water turns the must of a white or pale straw colour, and is of opinion that 
he has heen wrongly informed. 

51 " Sea -water " wine. 52 " Sea-seasoned " wine. 

53 Fee says, that if the vessels were closed hermetically this would have 
little or no appreciable effect ; if not, it would tend to spoil the wine. 

54 Athenseus says that the Rhodian wine will not mix so well with sea- 
water as the Coan. Fee remarks that if Cato's plan were followed, the 
wine would become vinegar long before the end of the four years. 

65 Sillig thinks that the proper reading is " in six" only. 

56 The sweet wines, in modern times, have the most bouquet or aroma. 

57 " Albus," pale straw-colour. 58 " Fulvus," amber-colour. 

59 Bright and glowing, like Tent and Burgundy. 

60 it Niger," the colour of our port. 

61 Supposed to be a species of Pramnian wine, mentioned in c. 6. This 
was used, as also the Aminean, for making omphacium, as mentioned in B. 
xii. c. 60. See also c. 18 of this Book. 

62 " Black psythian." 

63 Mentioned by Galen among the sweet wines. 

64 See B. iii. c. 14. Now Solana in Sicily, which produces excellent 
w j ue< 65 Honied wine. 

Chap. 11.] 


As to sineum, by some known as "hepsema," and which in 
our language is called " sapa," 66 it is a product of art and not 
of Nature, being prepared from must boiled down to one- third : 
when must is boiled down to one-half only, we give it the 
name of " defrutum." All these mixtures have been de- 
vised for the adulteration of honey. 67 As to those varieties 
which we have previously mentioned, their merits depend 
upon the grape, and the soil in which it is grown. Next 
after the raisin-wine of Crete, 68 those of Cilicia and Africa are 
held in the highest esteem, both in Italy as well as the ad- 
joining provinces. It is well known that it is made of a grape 
to which the Greeks have given the name of " stica," and which 
by us is called " apiana :" 69 it is also made of the scirpula.' 
The grapes are left on the vine to dry in the sun, or else are 
boiled in the dolium. 71 Some persons make this wine of the 
sweet and early white 72 grape : they leave the grapes to 
dry in the sun, until they have lost pretty nearly halt their 
weight, after which they crush them and subject them to a 
gentle pressure. They then draw off the juice, and add to 
the pulp that is left an equal quantity of well-water, the pro- 
duct of which is raisin-wine of second quality. 73 The more 
careful makers not only do this, but take care also after drying 
the grapes to remove the stalks, and then steep the raisins in 
wine of good quality until they swell, after which they press 
them This kind of raisin- wine is preferred to all others : 
with the addition of water, they follow the same plan in 
making the wine of second quality. 

The liquor to which the Greeks give the name of aigleu- 
cos ,,u is of middle quality, between the sirops and whatsis 
properly called wine; with us it is called " semper mustum.' " 
It is only made by using great precaution, and taking care 
that the must does not ferment; 76 such being the state ol the 
ee This was evidently a kind of grape sirop, or grape jelly. _ "Rob" 
is pernaps, as Hardouin suggests, a not inappropriate name tor it. 
£> When cold, they would have nearly the same consistency. 

68 The raisin wine of Crete was the most prized of all as a class. 

69 Mentioned in c. 4. Probably a muscatel grape. 

70 See c. 4 of this Book. . . , . 
« Or " vat." The common reading was " oleo," which would imply that 

thev were plunged into boiling oil. Columella favours the latter reading, 
B xii. c. 16. 72 The reading is probably detective here, 

''a passumsecundarium. m Or " always sweet." 

75 « Always must." 76 Fervere, " boil," or « effervesce. 

250 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

must in its transformation into wine. To attain this object, the 
must is taken from the vat and put into casks, which are im- 
mediately plunged into water, and there left to remain until 
the winter solstice is past, and frosty weather has made its 
appearance. There is another kind, again, of natural aigleucos, 
which is known in the province of Narbonensis by the name 
of " dulce," 77 and more particularly in the district of the 
Vocontii. In order to make it, they keep the grape hanging 
on the tree for a considerable time, taking care to twist the 
stalk. Some, again, make an incision in the bearing shoot, as 
deep as the pith, while others leave the grapes to dry on tiles. 
The only grape, however, that is used in these various pro- 
cesses is that of the vine known as the " helvennaca." 7 " 

Some persons add to the list of these sweet wines that 
known as " diachyton." 79 It is made by drying grapes in the 
sun, and then placing them for seven days in a closed place 
upon hurdles, some seven feet from the ground, care being 
taken to protect them at night from the dews : on the eighth 
day they are trodden out : this method, it is said, produces a 
liquor of exquisite bouquet and flavour. The liquor known as 
melitites 80 is also one of the sweet wines : it differs from 
mulsum, in being made of must ; to five congii of rough-fla- 
voured must they put one congius of honey, and one cyathus 
of salt, and they are then brought to a gentle boil : this mix- 
ture is of a rough flavour. Among these varieties, I ought to 
place what is known as " protropum ;" 81 such being the name 
given by some to the must that runs spontaneously from the 
grapes before they are trodden out. Directly it flows it is 
put into flaggons, and allowed to ferment ; after which it is 
left to ripen for forty days in a summer sun, about the rising 
of the Dog-star. 

77 " Sweet " drink. Fee seems to think that this sweet wine must have 
been something similar to champagne. Hardouin says that it corresponds 
to the vin doux de Limoux, or blanquette de Limoux, and the vin Mus- 
cat d'Azile. 

78 See c. 3 of this Book. 

79 "Poured," or "strained through." 

80 " Honey wine." A disagreeable medicament, Fee thinks, rather than 
a wine. 

81 Somewhat similar to the vin de premiere goutte of the French. It 
wouid seem to have been more of a liqueur than a wine. Tokay is made 
in a somewhat similar manner. 


Those cannot properly be termed wines, which^ by the 
Greeks are known under the name of " deuteria," 83 and to 
which, in common with Cato, we in Italy give the name of 
" lora,' ;83 being made from the husks of grapes steeped in 
water. Still, however, this beverage is reckoned as making 
one of the " labourers'" 84 wines. There are three varieties of 
it : the first 85 is made in the following manner : — After the 
must is drawn off, one-tenth of its amount in water is added 
to the husks, which are then left to soak a day and a night, 
and then are again subjected to pressure. A second kind, 
that which the Greeks are in the habit of making, is prepared 
by adding one- third in water of the quantity of must that has 
been drawn off, and after submitting the pulp to pressure, the 
result is reduced by boiling to one-third of its original quan- 
tity. A third kind, again, is pressed out from the wine-lees ; 
Cato gives it the name of " fsecatum." 86 None of these be- 
verages, however, will keep for more than a single year. 



"While treating of these various details, it occurs to me to 
mention that of the eighty different kinds throughout the 
whole earth, which may with propriety be reckoned in the 
class of generous 87 wines, fully two- thirds 88 are the produce 
of Italy, which consequently in this respect far surpasses any 
other country : and on tracing this subject somewhat higher 
up, the fact suggests itself, that the wines of Italy have not 
been in any great favour from an early period, their high 

82 Or "second" press wines. 83 De Re Rust. c. 153. 

84 Vinum operarium. 

*5 This method is still adopted, Fee says, in making " piquette," or 
" small wine," throughout most of the countries of Europe. 
86 Or " wine-lee drink." It would make an acid beverage, of disagree- 

" 7 " Nobilia." In c. 29 he speaks of 195 kinds, and, reckoning all the 
varieties, double that number. 

&8 Fee observes that the varieties of the modern wines are quite innu- 
merable. He remarks also that Pliny does not speak of the Asiatic wines 
mentioned by Athenaeus, which were kept in large bottles, hung in the 
chimney corner ; where the liquid, by evaporation, acquired the consistency 
of salt. The wines of other countries evidently were little known to Pliny. 

252 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

repute having only been acquired since the six hundredth year 
of the City. 



Romulus made libations, not with wine but with milk ; a 
fact which is fully established by the religious rites which 
owe their foundation to him, and are observed even to the 
present day. The Posthumian Law, promulgated by King 
Numa, has an injunction to the following effect: — " Sprinkle 
not the funeral pyre with wine ;" a law to which he gave his 
sanction, no doubt, in consequence of the remarkable scarcity 
of that commodity in those days. By the same law, he also 
pronounced it illegal to make a libation to the gods of wine that 
was the produce of an unpruned vine, his object being to compel 
the husbandmen to prune their vines ; a duty which they 
showed themselves reluctant to perform, in consequence of the 
danger which attended climbing the trees. 89 M. Varro in- 
forms us, that Mezentius, the king of Etruria, succoured the 
Rutuli against the Latini, upon condition that he should re- 
ceive all the wine that was then in the territory of Latium. 

(13.) At Rome it was not lawful for women to drink wine. 
Among the various anecdotes connected with this subject, we 
find that the wife of Egnatius Mecenius 90 was slain by her hus- 
band with a stick, because she had drunk some wine from the vat, 
and that he was absolved from the murder by Eomulus. Fabius 
Pictor, in his Book of Annals, has stated that a certain lady, 
for having opened a purse in which the keys of the wine-cellar 
were kept, was starved to death by her family : and Cato tells 
us, that it was the usage for the male relatives to give the 
females a kiss, in order to ascertain whether they smelt of 
" temetum ;" for it was by that name that wine was then 
known, whence our word " temulentia," signifying drunken- 
ness. Cn. Domitius, the judge, once gave it as his opinion, 
that a certain woman appeared to him to have drunk more 
wine than was requisite for her health, and without the know- 
ledge of her husband, for which reason he condemned her to 
lose her dower. For a very long time there was the greatest 

89 " Circa pericula arbusti." This is probably the meaning of this very 
elliptical passage. See p. 218. 

90 Called Metellus, by Valerius Maximus, B. yi. c. 3. 


economy manifested at Eome in the use of this article. L. Pa- 
pirius, 91 the general, who, on one occasion, commanded against 
the Samnites, when about to engage, vowed an offering to Jupiter 
of a small cupfull of wine, if he should gain the victory. In fact, 
among the gifts presented to the gods, we find mention made 
of offerings of sextarii of milk, but never of wine. 

The same Cato, while on his voyage to Spain, from which 
he afterwards returned triumphant, 92 would drink of no other 
wine but that which was served out to the rowers — very dif- 
ferent, indeed, to the conduct of those who are in the habit of 
giving to their guests even inferior wine 93 to that which they 
drink themselves, or else contrive to substitute inferior in the 
course of the repast. 94 


The wines that were the most esteemed among the ancient 
Romans were those perfumed with myrrh, 95 as mentioned in the 
play of Plautus, entitled the " Persian," 96 though we find it there 
stated that calamus 97 ought to be added to it. Hence it is, 
that some persons are of opinion that they were particularly 
fond of aromatites : " but Fabius Dossennus quite decides 
the question, in the following line : — "I sent them good 
wine, myrrh- wine ;" 99 and in his play called " Acharistio," we 
find these words — " Bread and pearled barley, myrrh- wine 
too." I find, too, that Scaevola and L. iElius, and Ateius 
Capito, were of the same opinion ; and then we read in the 
play known as the " Pseudolus :' n — " But if it is requisite for 
him to draw forth what is sweet from the place, has he aught 
of that?" to which Charinus makes answer, " Do you ask 

91 See B. xvii. c. 11. 

92 Over the Celtiberi. 

93 The younger Pliny, B. ii. Ep. 2, censures this stingy practice. See 
also Martial, B. iii. Epig. 60. 

94 That this, however, was not uncommonly done, we may judge from the 
remark made by the governor of the feast, John ii. 10, to the bridegroom. 

95 Called " myrrhina." Fee remarks that the flavour of myrrh is acrid 
and bitter, its odour strong and disagreeable, and says that it is difficult, to 
conceive how the ancients could drink wine with this substance in solution. 

96 As the "Persa" has come down to us, we find no mention of myrrh 
in the passage alluded to. 

w See B. xii. c. 49. This is mentioned in the Persa, A. i. sc. 3, 1. 7. 

9 s Aromatic or perfumed wines. " Murrhinam. 

1 The Cheat or Impostor : a play of Plautus. See A. ii. sc. 4, 1. 51, et seq. 

254 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

the question ? He has myrrh wine, raisin wine, def rutum, 2 
and honey;" from which it would appear that myrrh wine 
was not only reckoned among the wines, but among the sweet 
wines too. 



The fact of the existence of the Opimian wine gives un- 
doubted proof that there were wine-lofts, 3 and that wine was 
racked off in the year of Rome 633, Italy being already alive 
to the blessings she enjoyed. Still, however, the several 
varieties that are now so celebrated were not so in those days ; 
and hence it is that all the wines that were grown at that 
period have only the one general name of " Opimian" wines, 
from the then consul Opimius. So, too, for a long time after- 
wards, and, indeed, so late as the times of our grandfathers, the 
wines from beyond sea were held in the highest esteem, even 
though Falernian was already known, a fact which we learn 
from the line of the Comic writer, 4 " I shall draw five cups of 
Thasian and two of Falernian." 

P. Licinius Crassus, and L. Julius Caesar, who were Cen- 
sors in the year from the Building of the City 665, issued an 
edict forbidding the sale of either Greek or Aminean wine at 
a higher price than eight asses the quadrantal 5 — for such, in 
fact, are the exact words of the edict. Indeed, the Greek 
wines were so highly valued, that not more than a single cup 
was served to a guest during the repast. 



M. Varro gives us the following statement as to the wines 
that were held in the highest esteem at table in his day: 
"L, Lucullus, when a boy, never saw an entertainment at his 
father's house, however sumptuous it might be, at which Greek 

2 Must boiled down to half its original quantity. 

3 Apothecas. The " apothecse" were rooms at the top of the house, in 
which the wines were placed for the purpose of seasoning. Sometimes a 
current of smoke was directed through them. They were quite distinct 
from the " cella vinaria," or « wine-cellar." The Opimian wine is men- 
tioned in c. 4. 

4 This writer is unknown. 5 Or amphora. 

Chap. 18.] USES OF THE WTLD TINE. 255 

wine was handed round more than once during the repast : 
whereas he himself, when he returned from Asia, distributed 
as a largess among the people more than a hundred thousand 
eongiaria 6 of the same wine. C. Sentius, whom we have seen 
Praetor, used to say that Chian wine never entered his house 
until his physician prescribed it to him for the cardiac 7 dis- 
ease. On the other hand, Hortensius left ten thousand casks 
of it to his heir." Such is the statement made by Varro. 

(15.) And besides, is it not a well-known fact that Caesar, 
when Dictator, at the banquet given on the occasion of his 
triumph, allotted to each table an amphora of Falernian and a 
cadus of Chian ? On the occasion, too, of his triumph for his 
victories in Spain, he put before the guests both Chian as well 
as Falernian ; and again, at the banquet given on his third 
consulship, 8 he gave lalernian, Chian, Lesbian, and Mamer- 
tine ; indeed, it is generally agreed that this was the first 
occasion on which four different kinds of wine were served at 
table. It was after this, then, that all the other sorts came 
into such very high repute, somewhere about the year of the 
City 700. 



I am not surprised, then, that for these many ages there 
have been invented almost innumerable varieties of artificial 
wines, of which I shall now make some mention ; they are all 
of them employed for medicinal purposes. We have already 
stated in a former Book how omphacium, 9 which is used for 
unguents, is made. The liquor known as " cenanthinum " is 
made from the wild vine, 10 two pounds of the flowers of which 
are steeped in a cadus of must, and are then changed at the 
end of thirty days. In addition to this, the root and the 

6 Vessels containing a congius, or the eighth of an amphora, nearly six 
pints English. 

7 As to this malady, see B. xi. c. 71. 

8 b.c. 46. 9 B. xii. c. 61. 

10 Or "labrusca." " (Enanthinum " means " made of vine flowers." The 
•wild vine is not a distinct species from the cultivated vine : it is only a 
variety of it, known in botany as the Vitis silvestris labrusca of Tournefort. 
Fee thinks that as the must could only be used in autumn, when the wild 
vine was not flowering, the flowers of it must have been dried. 

256 pltnt's natural history. [Book XIV. 

husks of the grapes are employed in dressing leather. The 
grapes, too, a little after the blossom has gone off, are sin- 
gularly efficacious as a specific for cooling the feverish heat of 
the body in certain maladies, being, it is said, of a nature re- 
markable for extreme coldness. A portion of these grapes 
wither away, in consequence of the heat, before the rest, 
which are thence called solstitial 13 grapes; indeed, the whole 
of them never attain maturity ; if one of these grapes, m 
an unripe state, is given to a barn-door fowl to eat, it is pro- 
ductive of a dislike to grapes for the future. 14 


The first of the artificial wines has wine for its basis; it is 
called " adynamon," 15 and is made in the following manner. 
Twenty sextarii of white must are boiled down with half that 
quantity of water, until the amount of the water is lost _ by 
evaporation. Some persons mix with the must ten sextarii of 
sea- water and an equal quantity of rain-water, and leave the 
whole to evaporate in the sun for forty days. This beverage 
is given to invalids to whom it is apprehended that wine may 
prove injurious. 

The next kind of artificial wine is that made of the ripo 
grain of millet ; 16 a pound and a quarter of it with the straw 
is steeped in two congii of must, and the mixture is poured on* 
at the end of six months. We have already stated 17 how 
various kinds of wine are made from the tree, the shrub, and 
the herb, respectively known as the lotus. 

From fruit, too, the following wines are made, to the list of 
which we shall only add some necessary explanations : — First 
of all, we find the fruit of the palm 18 employed for this pur- 

13 " Solstitiales." Because they withstand the heat of the solstice. Mar- 
cellus Empiricus calls them " caniculati," because they bear the heat of the 

u Fee remarks that this assertion is quite erroneous. 

15 From the Greek, meaning " without strength." The mixture, Fee 
remarks, would appear to be neither potable nor wholesome. 

16 See B. xviii. c. 24. A kind of beer might be made with it, Fee says ; 
but this mixture must have been very unpalatable. 

" See B. xiii. c. 32. 

18 A vinous drink maybe made in the manner here stated ; but the palm- 
wine of the peoples of Asia and Africa is only made of the fermented sap 
of the tree. See B. xiii. c. 9. 


pose by the Parthians as well as the Indians, and, indeed, 
throughout all the countries of the East. A modius of the 
kind of ripe date called "chydaeae" 19 is added to three congii 
of water, and after being steeped for some time, they are 
subjected to pressure. Sycites 20 is a preparation similarly 
made from figs : some persons call it " palmiprimum," 21 others, 
again, " catorehites : " if sweetness is not the maker's object, 
instead of water there is added the same quantity of husk 
juice 22 of grapes. Of the Cyprian fig 23 a very excellent vinegar, 
too, is made, and of that of Alexandria 24 a still superior. 

A wine is made, too, of the pods of the Syrian carob, 25 of 
pears, and of all kinds of apples. That known as " rhoites" 26 
is made from pomegranates, and other varieties are prepared 
from cornels, medlars, sorb apples, dried mulberries, and pine- 
nuts ; 27 these last are left to steep in must, and are then pressed ; 
the others produce a sweet liquor of themselves. "We shall 
have occasion before long to show how Cato 28 has pointed out 
the method of making myrtites : 29 the Greeks, however, adopt 
a different method in making it. They first boil tender sprigs 
of myrtle with the leaves on in white must, and after pound- 
ing them, boil down one pound of the mixture in three congii 
of must, until it is reduced to a couple of congii. The be- 
verage that is prepared in this manner with the berries of 
wild myrtle is known as " myrtidanum ;" 30 it will stain the 

Among the garden plants we find wines made of the follow- 
ing kinds : the radish, asparagus, cunila, origanum, parsley- 

19 He says "caryotae," and not chydsese, in B. xiii. c. 4. The modius 
was something more than our peck. 

20 From the Greek <tvkt), a " fig." This wine was made, Fee thinks, 
from the produce of some variety of the sycamore. See B. xiii. c. 14. 

21 " Prime palm " apparently. 

22 Tortivum, probably : the second squeezing. 

23 See B. xiii. c. 15. m See B. xiii. c. 14. 

25 See B. xiii. c. 16. 

26 From poa, a "pomegranate." 

27 Dioscorides calls it " strobilites." Fee says that they could he of no 
service in producing a vinous drink. 

28 See B. xy. c. 37. ™ Or "myrtle wine." 

30 Myrtle will not make a wine, but simply a medicament, in which wine 
is the menstruum. 

VOL. III. s 


seed, abrotonum, 31 wild mint, rue, 32 catmint, 33 wild thyme,** 
and horehound. 35 A couple of handfuls of these ingredients 
are put into a cadus of must, as also one sextarius of sapa, 36 and 
half a sextarius of sea- water. A wine is made of the naphew 37 
turnip by adding two drachms of naphew to two sextarii of 
must. A wine is made also from the roots of squills.' 9 Among 
the flowers, that of the rose furnishes a wine : the leaves are 
put in a linen cloth and then pounded, after which they are 
thrown into must with a small weight attached to make them 
sink to the bottom, the proportion being forty drachms of leaves 
to twenty sextarii of must ; the vessel in which it is kept 
must not be opened before the end of three months. A wine, 
too, is made of Gallic nard, 39 and another kind of the wild 40 
variety of that plant. 

I find, also, that various kinds of aromatites 41 are pre- 
pared, differing but very little in their mode of composition 
from that of the unguents, being made in the first instance, 
as I have already stated, 42 of myrrh, and then at a later period 
of Celtic nard, 43 calamus, and aspalathus, 44 of which cakes are 
made, and are then thrown into either must or sweet wine. 
Others, again, make these wines of calamus, scented rush, 40 
costus, 46 Syrian nard, 47 amomum, 48 cassia, 49 cinnamon, saffron, 50 
palm-dates, and foal-foot, 51 all of which are made up into cakes 
in a similar manner. Other persons, again, put half a pound 
of nard and malobathrum 52 to two congii of must ; and it is 
in this manner that at the present day, with the addition of 

31 Artemisia abrotonum of Linnaeus. 32 Ruta graveolens of Linnaeus. 
33 Nepeta cataria of Linnaeus. 34 Thymus serpyllum of Linnaeus. 

35 Marrubium vulgare of Linnaeus. 

36 Grape-juice boiled down to one-tbird. 

37 Brassica napus of Linnaeus. a8 Scilla marina of Linnaeus. 

39 Nardus Gallicus, or Valeriana Celtica of Linnaeus. _ See B. xii. c. 2G. 

40 Nardus silvestris or baccaris. 41 Aromatic wines. 
42 In c. 15 of this Book. 43 Valeriana Celtica. 

44 Convolvulus scoparius of Linnaeus. 

45 Andropogon scbcenanthus of Linnaeus. 

46 Costus Indicus of Linnaeus. 

47 Andropogon nardus of Linnaeus. 

48 See B. xiii. c, 2. 49 See B. xii. c. 43, 

50 Crocus sativus of Linnaeus. 

51 Asarum Europaeum of Linnaeus. 

52 See B. xii. c. 59. 


pepper and honey, the wines are made by some known as con- 
fection wines, 53 and by others as peppered 54 wines. We find 
mention made of nectarites also, a beverage extracted from a 
herb known to some as " helenion," 55 to others as " Me- 
dica," 56 and to others, again, as symphyton, 57 Idaea, Orestion, 
or nectaria, the root of which is added in the proportion of 
forty drachms to six sextarii of must, being first similarly 
placed in a linen cloth. 

As to other kinds of herbs, we find wormwood wine, 58 made 
of Pontic wormwood in the proportion of one pound to forty 
sextarii of must, which is then boiled down until it is reduced 
to one third, or else of slips of wormwood put in wine. In a 
similar manner, hyssop wine 59 is made of Cilician hyssop, 60 by 
adding three ounces of it to two congii of must, or else by 
pounding three ounces of hyssop, and adding them to one 
congius of must. Both of these wines may be made also in 
another method, by sowing these plants around the roots of 
vines. It is in this manner, too, that Cato tells us how to 
make hellebore 61 wine from black hellebore ; and a similar 
method is used for making scammony 63 wine. The vine has a 
remarkable propensity 63 of contracting the flavour of any plant 
that may happen to be growing near it ; and hence it is that 
in the marshy lands of Patavium, the grape has the peculiar 
flavour of the willow. So, in like manner, we find at Thasos 
hellebore planted among the vines, or else wild cucumber, or 
scammony ; the wine that is produced from these vines is 
known by the name of " phthorium," it being productive of 

53 Condita. 54 Piperata. 

55 Inula helenium of Linnaeus. See B. xxi. c. 91. 

56 Medicago sativa of Linnaeus. 

57 Symphytum officinale of Linnaeus, being all different varieties. 

58 " Absinthites ;" made of the Artemisia Pontica orLinnseus. A medi- 
cinal wine is still prepared with wormwood ; and " apsinthe," a liqueur 
much esteemed in France, is made from it. 

i9 Hyssopites. 

60 Hyssopites officinalis of Linnaeus. 

61 Helleborites. 62 Scammonites. 

63 Fee says that this is not the fact ; and queries whether the vulgar 
notion still entertained on- this subject, may not be traced up to our author.. 
It is a not uncommon belief that roses smell all the sweeter if onions are 
planted near them. 


"Wines are made, too, of other herbs, the nature of which will 
be mentioned in their respective places, the stcechas 64 for 
instance, the root of gentian, 65 tragoriganum, 66 dittany, 67 foal- 
foot, 68 daucus, 69 elelisphacus, 70 panax, 71 acorus, 72 conyza, 73 
thyme, 74 mandragore, 75 and sweet rush. 76 "We find the names 
mentioned, also, of scyzinum, 77 itaaomelis, and lectisphagites, 
compounds of which the receipt is now lost. 

The wines that are made from the shrubs are mostly ex- 
tracted from the two kinds of cedar, 78 the cypress, 79 the laurel, 80 
the juniper, 81 the terebinth, 82 and in Gaul the lentisk. 83 To 
make these wines, they boil either the berries or the new wood 
of the shrub in must. They employ, also, the wood of the 
dwarf olive, 84 the ground-pine, 85 and the germander 86 for a 
similar purpose, adding at the same time ten drachms of the 
flower to a congius of must. 

64 Lavendula stoechas of Linnaeus. See B. xxvii. c. 107. 

65 Gentiana lutea of Linnaeus. See B. xxv. c. 34. Gentian wine is 
still made. 

66 Thymus tragoriganum of Linnaeus. See B. xx. c. 68. 

67 Origanum dictamnus of Linnaeus. See B. xxv. c. 63. 
6S Asarum Europaeum of Linnaeus. See B. xii. c. 27. 

69 Query, if not carrot ? See B. xxv. c. 64. 

70 A variety of salvia or sage : it will be mentioned again, further on. 

71 Laserpitium hirsutum of Linnaeus. See B. xxv. cc. 11, 12, and 13. 

72 Acorus calamus of Linnaeus. See B. xxv. c. 100. 

73 See B. xxi. c. 32. ? 4 See B. xxi. c. 31. 

. 75 Atrapora mandragora of Linnaeus. This wine would act as a narcotic 
poison, it would appear. 

76 Andropogon schoenanthus of Linnaeus. See B. xxi. c. 72. 

77 The origin and meaning of these names are unknown. 

73 See B. xii. c. 11. Juniperus Lycia, and Juniperus Phcenicea of 

79 Cupressus sempervirens of Linnaeus. 

80 Laurus nobilis of Linnaeus. See B. xv. c. 39. 
S1 Juniperus communis of Linnaeus. 

83 See B. xiii. c. 12. The Pistacia terebinthus of Linnaeus. 

83 See B. xii. c. 36. The Pistacia lentiscus of Linnaeus. 

84 " Chamelaea." The Granium Cnidium, Daphne Cnidium, and Daphne 
cneorum of Linnaeus. See B. xiii. c. 35. Venomous plants, which, taken 
internally, would be productive of dangerous results. 

35 Chamaepitrys. The Teucrium chamaepitrys of Linnaeus. See B. xxv. 
c. 20. 

86 Chamaedrys. The Teucrium chamaedrys of Linnaeus. See B. xxiv. 
c. 80. Dioscorides mentions most of these so-called wines. 

Chap. 21.] OXYMELI. 261 


There is a wine also made solely of honey and water. 87 For 
this purpose it is recommended that rain-water 88 should be 
kept for a period of five years. Those who shew greater skill, 
content themselves with taking the water just after it has 
fallen, and boiling it down to one third, to which they then 
add one third in quantity of old honey, and keep the mixture 
exposed to the rays of a hot sun 89 for forty days after the 
rising of the Dog-star ; others, however, rack it off in^ the 
course of ten days, and tightly cork the vessels in which it is 
kept. This beverage is known as "hydromeli," and with age 
acquires the flavour of wine. It is nowhere more highly 
esteemed than in Phrygia. 90 


Vinegar 91 even has been mixed with honey; nothing, in 
fact, has been left untried by man. To this mixture the name 
of oxymeli has been given ; it is compounded of ten pounds of 
honey, five semi-sextarii of old vinegar, one pound of sea-salt, 
and five sextarii of rain-water. This is boiled gently till the 
mixture has bubbled in the pot some ten times, 92 after which it 
is drawn off, and kept till it is old ; 93 all these wines, how- 
ever, are condemned 94 by Themison, an author of high autho- 
rity. And really, by Hercules ! the use of them does ap- 
pear to be somewhat forced, 95 unless, indeed, we are ready to 
maintain that these aromatic wines are so many compounds 
taught us by Nature, as well as those that are manufactured of 
perfumes, or that shrubs and plants have been generated only 
for the purpose of being swallowed in drink. However, ail 
these particulars, when known, are curious and interesting, 
and show how successfully the human intellect has pried into 
every secret. 

87 M-ead, or metheglin. See B. xxii. c. 51. 

88 There is no ground, Fee says, for this recommendation. 

89 Stoves are now used for this purpose. 

90 " Hydromelum," on the other hand, made of water and apples, was 
the same as our modern cider. 91 See B. xxiii. c. 9. 

93 " Subfervefactis." " Just come on the boil." 

93 The oxymel of modern times contains no salt, and is only used as a 

94 As drinks, no doubt ; and with good reason, as to most of them. 

95 Coactus. 

262 plint's NATURAL HISTOBY. [Book XIV. 

None of these wines, however, will keep beyond a year, 96 
with the sole exception of those which we have spoken of as 
requiring age ; many of these, indeed, there can be no doubt, 
do not improve after being kept so little as thirty days. 



There are some miraculous properties, too, in certain wines. 
It is said that in Arcadia there is a wine grown which is 
productive of fruitfulness 97 in women, and of madness in men ; 
while in Achaia, and more especially in the vicinity of Cary- 
nia, there is a wine which causes abortion ; an effect which is 
equally produced if a woman in a state of pregnancy happens 
only to eat a grape of the vine from which it is grown, although 
in taste it is in no way different from ordinary grapes : again, 
it is confidently asserted that those who drink the wine of 
Trcezen never bear children. Thasos, it is said, produces two 
varieties of wine with quite opposite properties. By one kind 
sleep is produced, 98 by the other it is prevented. There is 
also in the same island a vine known as the " theriaca," 99 the 
wine and grapes of w r hich are a cure for the bites of serpents. 
The libanian vine 1 also produces a wine with the smell of 
frankincense, with which they make libations to the gods, while, 
on the other hand, the produce of that known as " aspendios, 2 " 
is banished from all the altars : it is said, too, that this last 
vine is never touched by any bird. 

The Egyptians call by the name of "Thasian," 3 a certain 
grape of that country, remarkable for its sweetness and its 

96 Our medicinal wines will mostly keep longer than this, owing probably 
to the difference in the mode of making the real wines that form their 

91 There is little doubt that this is fabulous : wine taken in excess, we 
know, is productive of loss of the senses, frenzy in the shape of delirium 

9lJ This is not unlikely ; for, as Fee remarks, the red wines, containing 
a large proportion of alcohol, act upon the brain and promote sleep, while 
the white wines, charged with carbonic gas, are productive of wakefulness. 

99 Or healing vine. See B. xxiii. c. 11. 

1 "Iibanios." Probably incense was put in this wine, to produce the 

2 From a, " not," and airkpinv, " to make libation." 

3 See c. 9 of this Book. It was introduced, probably, from Thasos. 

Chap. 21.] now MUST is puepaeed. 263 

laxative qualities. On the other hand, there is in Lycia a 
certain grape which proves astringent to the stomach when 
relaxed. Egypt has a wine, too, known as " ecbolas," 4 which 
is prod active of abortion. There are some wines, which at 
the rising of the Dog-star change their nature in the wine- 
lofts 5 where they are kept, and afterwards recover 6 their 
original quality. The same is the case, too, with wines when 
carried across the seas : those that are able to withstand the 
motion of the waves, appear afterwards to be twice as old 7 as 
they really are. 



As religion is the great basis of the ordinary usages of life. 
I shall here remark that it is considered improper to offer 
libations to the gods with any wines which are the produce of 
an unpruned vine, or of one that has been struck by lightning, 
or near to which a dead man has been hung, or of grapes that 
have been trodden out by sore feet, or made of must from 
husks that have been cut, 8 or from grapes that have been 
polluted by the fall of any unclean thing upon them. The 
Greek wines are excluded also from the sacred ministrations, 
because they contain a portion of water. 

The vine itself is sometimes eaten ; the tops of the shoots 9 
are taken off and boiled, and are then pickled in vinegar 10 
and brine. 


It will be as well now to make some mention of the methods 

4 From UfiaWo), u to eject." 5 Apothecis. 

6 He alludes to the working of wines in periods of extreme heat ; also 
in the spring. 

7 Of our modern wines, Madeira and Bourdeaux improve by being carried 
across 'sea. Burgundy, if any thing, deteriorates, by the diminution of its 

8 After the grapes had been trodden and pressed, the husks were taken 
out and their edges cut, and then again subjected to pressure : the result 
was known as u tortivum," or " circumcisivum," a wine of very inferior 

: ' He alludes to the young shoots, which have an agreeable acidity, 
owing to acetic and tartaric acids. 

10 Acetic acid ; the result, no doubt, of the faulty mode of manufacture 
universally prevalent ; their wines contained evidently but little alcohol. 

264 pliny's natural histoby. [Book XIV. 

used in preparing wines ; indeed, several of trie Greeks have 
written separate treatises on this subject, and have made a 
complete art of it, such, for instance, as Euphronius, Aristo- 
machus, Commiades, and Hieesius. The people of Africa are 
in the habit of neutralizing such acidity u as may be found 
with gypsum, and in some parts with lime. The people of 
Greece, on the other hand, impart briskness to their wines 
when too flat, with potters' earth, pounded marble, salt, or 
sea- water ; while in Italy, again, brown pitch is used for that 
purpose in some parts, and it is the universal practice both 
there as well as in the adjoining provinces to season their new 
wines with resin : sometimes, too, they season them with old 
wine-lees or vinegar. 12 They make various medicaments, also, 
for this purpose with the must itself. They boil it down till 
it becomes quite sweet, and has lost a considerable portion of 
its strength ; though thus prepared, they say it will never last 
beyond a single year. In some places they boil down the 
must till it becomes sapa, 13 and then mix it with their wines 
for the purpose of modifying their harshness. Both for 
these kinds of wines, as, indeed, all others, they always employ 
vessels which have themselves received an inner coat of pitch ; 
the method of preparing them will be set forth in a succeeding 
Book. 14 


Of the trees from which pitch and resin distil, there are 
some which grow in the East, and others in Europe : the pro- 
vince of Asia, 15 which lies between the two, has also some of 
both kinds. In the East, the very best commodity of this 
kind, and of the finest quality, is that produced by the tere- 
binth, 16 and, next to it, that from the lentisk, 17 which is also 
known as the mastich. The next in quality to these is the juice 
of the cypress, 18 being of a more acrid flavour than any other. 

11 See B. xxiii. c. 24, and B. xxxvi. c. 48. 

12 A process very likely, as Fe'e remarks, to turn the wines speedily to 

13 Down to one-third. This practice of using boiled grape-juice as a 
seasoning, is still followed in Spain in making some of the liqueurs; but it 
is not generally recommended. 

14 B. xvi. c. 21. 15 Asia Minor, namely. 
16 B. xiii. c. 12. " B. xii. c. 37. 

18 It produces but a very minute quantity of resin, which is no longer 
an article of commerce. 

Chap. 25.] PITCH AX3 EESIN. 265 

All the above juices are liquid and of a resinous nature only, 
but that of the cedar 19 is comparatively thick, and of a proper 
consistency for making pitch. The Arabian resin » is of a 
pale colour, has an acrid smell, and its fumes are stifling to 
those employed in boiling it. That of Judaea is of a harder 
nature, and has a stronger smell than that from the terebinth- 1 
even. The Syrian 22 resin has all the appearance of Attic 
honey, but that of Cyprus is superior to any other ; it is the^ 
colour of honey, and is of a soft, fleshy nature. The resin of 
Colophon 23 is yellower than the other varieties, but when 
pounded it turns white; it has a stifling smell, for which 
reason the perfumers do not employ it. That prepared in 
Asia from the produce of the pitch-tree is very white, and is 
known by the name of " spagas." 

All the resins are soluble in oil ; 25 some persons are of opi- 
nion also that potters' chalk may be so dissolved : 26 I feel 
ashamed 27 to avow that the principal esteem in which the 
resins are held among us is as depilatories for taking the hair 
off men's bodies. 

The method used for seasoning wines is to sprinkle pitch 
in the must during the first fermentation, which never lasts 
beyond nine days at the most, so that a bouquet is imparted 
to the wine, 28 with, in some degree, its own peculiar piquancy 
of flavour. It is generally considered, that this is done most 
effectually by the use of raw flower 29 of resin, which imparts 
a considerable degree of briskness to wine : while, on the 
other hand, it is thought that crapula 30 itself, if mixed, tends 

19 See B. xiii. c.'ll, and B. xvi. c. 21. Not the cedar of Lebanon, 
probably, which only gives a very small quantity of resin, but one of the 

20 Fee suggests that this may have been the resin of the Arabian tere- 

21 See B. xxiv. c. 22. 

22 Perhaps from the Pistacia terebinthus of Linnaeus. 

23 This was made from the terebinth : but the modern resin of Colophon 
is extracted from varieties of the coniferae. 

25 See B. xxiv. c. 22. 

26 Earths are not soluble in oils. 

27 As being a mark of extreme effeminacy. 

2S The greater the quantity of alcohol, the more resin the wine would 
be able to hold in solution. 

» See B. xvi. c. 22. 

30 " Crapula" properly means head-ache, and what is not uncommonly 
known as " seedness." Besined wine was thought to be productive of 

266 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

to mitigate the harshness of the wine and subdue its asperity, 
and when the wine is thin and fiat, to give it additional 
strength and body. It is in Liguria more particularly, and 
the districts in the vicinity of the Padus, that the utility is 
recognized of mixing crapula with the must, in doing which 
the following rule is adopted : with wines of a strong and 
generous nature they mix a larger quantity, while with those 
that are poor and thin they use it more sparingly. There are 
some who would have the wine seasoned with both crapula 
and flower of resin at the same time. 31 Pitch too, when used 
for this purpose, has much the same properties as must when 
so employed. 

In some places, the must is subject to a spontaneous fermen- 
tation a second time : when this unfortunately happens it loses 
all its flavour, and then receives the name of " vappa," 32 a word 
which is applied as an opprobrious appellation even to worth- 
less men of degenerate spirit : in vinegar, on the other hand, 
notwithstanding its tart and acrid taste, there are very con- 
siderable virtues, and without it we should miss many of the 
comforts 33 of civilized life. 

In addition to what we have already stated, the treatment 
and preparation of wines are the object of such remarkable at- 
tention, that we find some persons employing ashes, and others 
gypsum and other substances of which we have already 34 
spoken, for the purpose of improving its condition : the ashes, 35 
however, of the shoots of vines or of the wood of the quercus, are 
in general preferred for this purpose. It is recommended also, 

these effects, and hence obtained the name. This kind of wine was used 
itself, as we see above, in seasoning the other kinds. Fee remarks, that 
in reality resins have no such effect as imparting body to weak wines. 

31 The whole of this passage is hopelessly corrupt, and we can only 
guess at the meaning. 

32 We have already stated that " vappa " is properly vinegar, which 
has been exposed to the air and has lost its flavour. In this fresh che- 
mical change, which he calls a second fermentation, the wine becomes 
vinegar ; and probably in the cases he mentions, for some peculiar reason, 
its speedy transition to " vappa " could not be arrested. 

33 Mixed with water, it was the " posca," or common drink of the Roman 
soldiers ; and it was used extensively both by Greeks and Romans in their 
cooking, and at meals. 

34 In c. 24. 

35 By the mixture of ashes, Fee says, the wines would lose their colour, 
and have a detestable alkaline flavour. 

Chap. 25.] 


to take sea-water far out at sea, and to keep it in reserve, 86 
to be employed for this purpose : at all events, it ought to be 
taken up in the night and during the summer solstice, while 
the north-east wind is blowing ; but if taken at the time of 
the vintage, it should be boiled before being used. 

The pitch most highly esteemed in Italy for preparing 
vessels for storing wine, is that which comes from Eruttium. 
It is made from the resin that distils from the pitch-tree ; that 
which is used in Spain is held in but little esteem, being the 
produce of the wild pine ; it is bitter, dry, and of a disagree- 
able smell. While speaking of the wild trees in a succeeding 
Book, 37 we shall make mention of the different varieties of pitch, 
and the methods used in preparing it. The defects in resin, 
besides those which 38 we have already mentioned, area certain 
degree of acridity, or a peculiar smoky flavour, while the great 
fault in pitch is the being over-burnt. The ordinary test 
of its goodness is a certain luminous appearance when broken 
to pieces ; it ought to stick, too, to the teeth, with a pleasant, 
tart flavour. 

In Asia, the pitch which is most esteemed is that of Mount 
Ida, in Greece of Pieria; but Yirgil 39 gives the preference to 
the Narycian 40 pitch. The more careful makers mix with 
the wine" black mastich, which comes from Pontus, 41 and resem- 
bles bitumen in appearance, as also iris 42 -root and oil. As to 
coating the vessels with wax, it has been found that the wine 
is apt to turn acid : 43 it is a better plan to put wine in vessels 
that have held vinegar, than in those which have previously 
contained sweet wine or mulsum. Cato 44 recommends that 
wines should be got wp—concinnari is his word— by putting 
of lie-ashes boiled down with defrutum, one-fortieth part to the 
culeus, or else a pound and a half of salt, with pounded 
marble as well : he makes mention of sulphur also, but only gives 
the very last place to resin. When the fermentation of the wine 
is coming to an end, he recommends the addition of the must 

36 A perfect absurdity, Fee remarks. 
3 ? B. xvi. cc. 16—23. 

38 Bitterness, driness, and a disagreeable smell. 

39 Georg. ii. 498. 40 See B. iv. c. 12. 
4i See ii. xii. c. 36. . 43 See B. xxi. e. 19. 

43 Bees' wax, Fee remarks, would not have this effect, but vinegar 
vessels would. 

« De Be Bust. c. 23. 

268 pliny's natural history. [Book XIV. 

to which he gives the name of " tortivum," 45 meaning that 
which is pressed out the very last of all. For the purpose of 
colouring wine we also add certain substances as a sort of pig- 
ment, and these have a tendency to give it a body as well. 
Ey such poisonous sophistications is this beverage compelled* 
to suit our tastes, and then we are surprised that it is inju- 
rious in its effects ! 

It is a proof that wine is beginning to turn bad, if a plate of 
lead, on being put in it, changes its colour. 46 


It is a peculiarity of wine, among the liquids, to become 
mouldy, or else to turn to vinegar. There are whole volumes 
which treat of the various methods of preventing this. 

The lees of wine when dried will take fire and burn without 
the addition of fuel : the ashes so produced have very much the 
nature of nitre, 47 and similar virtues ; the more so, indeed, the 
more unctuous they are to the touch. 


The various methods of keeping and storing wines in the 
cellar are very different. In the vicinity of the Alps, they put 
their wines in wooden vessels hooped around ; 48 during their 
cold winters, they even keep lighted fires, to protect the wines 
from the effects of the cold. It is a singular thing to men- 
tion, but still it has been occasionally seen, that these vessels 
have burst asunder, and there has stood the wine in frozen 
masses ; a miracle almost, as it is not ordinarily the nature of 
wine to freeze, cold having only the effect of benumbing it. 
In more temperate climates, they place their wines in dolia, 49 
which they bury in the earth, either covering them entirely or 
in part, according to the temperature. Sometimes, again, they 
expose their wines in the open air, while at others they are 
placed beneath sheds for protection from the atmosphere. 

45 The second " squeezings." 

46 If the wine is turning to vinegar, suhacetate of lead will be formed. 

47 They are tartrates, and have no affinity at all with nitre. 

48 Casks, in fact, similar to those used in France at the present day. In 
Spain they use earthen jars and the skins of animals. 

49 Oblong earthen vessels, used as vats. 

Chap. 27.] WINE-VESSELS. 269 

The following are among the rules given for the proper 
management of wines : — One side of the wine-cellar, or, at 
all events, the windows, ought to face the north-east, or at least 
due east. All dunghills and roots of trees, and everything of 
a repulsive smell, ought to be kept at as great a distance as 
possible, wine being very apt to contract an odour. Fig-trees 
too, either wild or cultivated, ought not to be planted in the 
vicinity. Intervals should also be left between the vessels, 
in order to prevent infection, in case of any of them turning 
bad, wine being remarkably apt to become tainted. The 
shape, too, of the vessels is of considerable importance : those 
that are broad and bellying 51 are not so good. 52 We find it re- 
cpmm ended too, to pitch them immediately after the rising of 
the Dog-star, and then to wash them either with sea or salt 
water, after which they should be sprinkled with the ashes of 
tree-shoots or else with potters' earth ; they ought then to be 
cleaned out, and perfumed with myrrh, a thing which ought 
to be frequently done to the wine-cellars as well. Weak, 
thin wines should be kept 53 in dolia sunk in the ground, while 
those in which the stronger ones are kept should be more ex- 
posed to the air. The vessels ought on no account to be entirely 
filled, room being left for seasoning, by mixing either raisin 
wine or else defrutum flavoured with saffron ; old pitch and 
sapa are sometimes used for the same purpose. The lids, too, 
of the dolia ought to be seasoned in a similar manner, with 
the addition of mastich and Bruttian pitch. 

It is strongly recommended never to open the vessels, ex- 
cept in fine weather ; nor yet while a south wind is blowing, 
or at a full moon. 

The flower 54 of wine when white is looked upon as a good 
sign ; but when it is red, it is bad, unless that should happen 
to be the colour of the wine. The vessels, too, should not be 
hot to the touch, nor should the covers throw out a sort of 
sweat. When wine very soon flowers on the surface and 
emits an odour, it is a sign that it will not keep. 

As to defrutum and sapa, it is recommended to commence 
boiling them when there is no moon to be seen, or, in other 

si "Ventruosa." He means "round.'' 52 As oblong ones, probably. 

53 While fermenting, and before racking off. 

54 Flos vini, the Mycoderma vini of Desmazieres, a mould or pellicule 
which forms on the surface, and afterwards falls and is held in suspension. 

270 plint's natural histort. [BookXIY. 

words, at the conjunction of that planet, and at no other time. 
Leaden 55 vessels should be used for this purpose, and not copper 56 
ones, and walnuts are generally thrown into them, from a 
notion that they absorb 57 the smoke. In Campania they ex- 
pose the very finest wines in casks in the open air, it being the- 
opinion that it tends to improve the wine if it is exposed to the 
action of the sun and moon, the rain and the winds. 


If any one will take the trouble duly to consider the matter, 
he will find that upon no one subject is the industry of man 
kept more constantly on the alert than upon the making of wine ; 
as if Nature had not given us water as a beverage, the one, in 
fact, of which all other animals make use. We, on the other 
hand, even go so far as to make our very beasts of burden 
drink 58 wine : so vast are our efforts, so vast our labours, and 
so boundless the cost which we thus lavish upon a liquid 
which deprives man of his reason and drives him to frenzy 
and to the commission of a thousand crimes ! So great, how- 
ever, are its attractions, that a great part of mankind are of 
opinion that there is nothing else in life worth living for. 
Nay, what is even more than this, that we may be enabled to 
swallow all the more, we have adopted the plan of diminishing 
its strength by pressing it through 69 filters of cloth, and have 
devised numerous inventions whereby to create an artificial 
thirst. To promote drinking, we find that even poisonous 
mixtures have been invented, and some men are known to 
take a dose of hemlock before they begin to drink, that they 
may have the fear of death before them to make them take 
their wine: 60 others, again, take powdered pumice 61 for the 

55 Vessels of lead are never used for this purpose at the present day ; as 
that metal would oxidize too rapidly, and liquids would have great diffi- 
culty in coming to a boil. A slow fire must have been used by the ancients. 

56 They were thought to give a bad flavour to the sapa or defrutum. 

57 A mere puerility, as Fee remarks. 

53 He does not state the reason, nor does it appear to be known. At 
the present day warmed wine is sometimes given to a jaded horse, to put 
him on his legs again. 

59 Though practised by those who wished to drink largely, this was con- 
sidered to diminish the flavour of delicate wines. 

eo See B. xxii. c. 23, and B. xxv. c. 95 ; also c. 7 of the present Book. 
Wine is no longer considered an antidote to cicuta or hemlock. 

6i See B. xxxvi. c. 42. 

Chap. 28.] DEUNKENKESS. 271 

same purpose, and various other mixtures, "which I should 
feel quite ashamed any further to enlarge upon. 

We see the more prudent among those who are given to this 
habit have themselves parboiled in hot-baths, from whence they 
are carried away half dead. Others there are, again, who can- 
not wait till they have got to the banqueting couch, 62 no, not 
so much as till they have got their shirt on, 63 but all naked 
and panting as they are, the instant they leave the bath they 
seize hold of large vessels filled with wine, to show off, as it 
were, their mighty powers, and so gulp down the whole of the 
contents only to vomit them up again the very next moment. 
This they will repeat, too, a second and even a third time, 
just as though they had only been begotten for the purpose of 
wasting wine, and as if that liquor could not be thrown away 
without having first passed through the human body. It is 
to encourage habits such as these that we have introduced the 
athletic exercises 64 of other countries, such as rolling in the 
mud, for instance, and throwing the arms back to show off a 
brawny neck and chest. Of all these exercises, thirst, it is 
said, is the chief and primary object. 

And then, too, what vessels are employed for holding wine ! 
carved all over with the representations of adulterous intrigues, 
as if, in fact, drunkenness itself was not sufficiently capable of 
teaching us lessons of lustfulness. Thus we see wines quaffed 
out of impurities, and inebriety invited even by the hope of a 
reward, — invited, did I say ? — -may the gods forgive me for 
saying so, purchased outright. We find one person induced 
to drink upon the condition that he shall have as much to eat 
as he has previously drunk, while another has to quaff as 
many cups as he has thrown points on the dice. Then it is 
that the roving, insatiate eyes are setting a price upon the 
matron's chastity ; and yet, heavy as they are with wine, they 
do not fail to betray their designs to her "husband. Then 
it is that all the secrets of the mind are revealed ; one man is 
heard to disclose the provisions of his will, another lets fall 
some expression of fatal import, and so fails to keep to himself 
words which will be sure to come home to him with a cut 

62 This seems to be the. meaning of " lectuni ;" but the passage is ob- 
scure. 6i Tunicam. 

61 He satirizes, probably, some kind of gymnastic exercises that had 
been introduced to promote the speedy passage of the wine through the body. 


throat. And how many a man has met his death in this fashion ! 
Indeed, it has become quite a common proverb, that " in wine 65 
there is truth." 

Should he, however, fortunately escape all these dangers, 
the drunkard never beholds the rising sun, by which his life 
of drinking is made all the shorter. From wine, too, comes 
that pallid hue, 56 those drooping eyelids, those sore eyes, those 
tremulous hands, unable to hold with steadiness the over- 
flowing vessel, condign punishment in the shape of sleep agi- 
tated by Furies during the restless night, and, the supreme 
reward of inebriety, those dreams of monstrous lustfulness and 
of forbidden delights. Then on the next day there is the breath 
reeking of the wine-cask, and a nearly total obliviousness of 
everything, from the annihilation of the powers of the memory. 
And this, too, is what they call " seizing the moments of life!' r67 
whereas, in reality, while other men lose the day that has gone 
before, the drinker has already lost the one that is to come. 

They first began, in the reign of Tiberius Claudius, some 
forty years ago, to drink fasting, and to take whets of wine 
before meals ; an outlandish 68 fashion, however, and only pa- 
tronized by physicians who wished to recommend themselves 
by the introduction of some novelty or other. 

It is in the exercise of their drinking powers that the Par- 
thians look for their share of fame, and it was in this that 
Alcibiades among the Greeks earned his great repute. Among 
ourselves, too, Novellius Torquatus of Mediolanum, a man 
who held all the honours of the state from the prefecture to the 
pro-consulate, could drink off three congii 69 at a single draught, 
a feat from which he obtained the surname of "Tricon- 
gius :" this he did before the eyes of the Emperor Tiberius, 
and to his extreme surprise and astonishment, a man who in 
his old age was very morose, 70 and indeed very cruel in gene- 
ral ; though in his younger days he himself had been too 
much addicted to wine. Indeed it was owing to that recom- 
mendation that it was generally thought that L. Piso was 

G5 it j n y [ no Veritas," 

00 Fee remarks that this is one proof that the wine of the ancients was 
essentially different in its nature from ours. In our day wine gives any- 
thing but a "pallid" hue. 

67 " Rapere vitam." 6S See B. xxiii. c. 23. 

69 Three gallons and three pints ! ! There must have been some jugglery 
in this performance. 

70 Probably towards those guilty of excesses in wine. 

Chap. 28.] DETJNKEXNESS. 2?3 

selected by him to have the charge and custody 71 of the City of 
Home ; he having kept up a drinking-bout at the residence of 
Tiberius, just after he had become emperor, two days and two 
nights without intermission. In no point, too, was it gene- 
rally said that Drusus Caesar took after his father Tiberius 
more than this. 72 Torquatus had the rather uncommon glory — 
for this science, too, is regulated by peculiar laws of its own — 
of never being known to stammer in his speech, or to relieve 
the stomach by vomiting or urine, while engaged in drinking. 
He was always on duty at the morning guard, was able to 
empty the largest vessel at a single draught, and yet to take 
more ordinary cups in addition than any one else ; he was al- 
ways to be implicitly depended upon, too, for being able to drink 
without taking breath and without ever spitting, or so much 
as leaving enough at the bottom of the cup to make a plash 
upon the pavement ; 73 thus showing himself an exact observer 
of the regulations which have been made to prevent all shirk- 
ing on the part of drinkers. 

Tergilla reproaches Cicero, the son of Marcus Cicero, with 
being in the habit of taking off a couple of congii at a single 
draught, and with having thrown a cup, when in a state of 
drunkenness, at M. Agrippa ; n such, in fact, being the ordinary 
results of intoxication. But it is not to be wondered at that 
Cicero was desirous in this respect to eclipse the fame of M. 
Antonius, the murderer of his father ; a man who had, before 
the time of the younger Cicero, shown himself so extremely 
anxious to maintain the superiority in this kind of qualifica- 
tion, that he had even gone so far as to publish a book upon 
the subject of his own drunkenness. 75 Daring in this work to 
speak in his own defence, he has proved very satisfactorily, to 
my thinking, how many were the evils he had inflicted upon 
the world through this same vice of drunkenness. It was but 
a short time before the battle of Actiuni that he vomited forth 

71 As' Praefectus Urbis. 72 Love of drinking. 

73 The mode of testing whether any "heeltaps" were left or not. It 
was this custom, probably, that gave rise to the favourite game of the 

74 Dr. Middleton, in his Life of Cicero, in his unlimited partiality for the 
family, quotes this as an instance of courage and high spirit. 

75 According to Paterculus, he was fond of driving about in a chariot, 
crowned with ivy, a golden goblet in his hand, and dressed like Bacchus, 
by which title he ordered himself to be addressed. 

Vol. III. 1' 


this book of his, from which we have no great difficulty in 
coming to the conclusion, that drunk as he already was with 
the blood of his fellow-citizens, the only result was that he 
thirsted for it all the more. Tor, in fact, such is the infallible 
characteristic of drunkenness, the more a person is in the 
habit of drinking, the more eager he is for drink ; and the 
remark of the Scythian ambassador is as true as it is well 
known— the more the Parthians drank, the thirstier they were 
for it. 



The people of the Western world have also their intoxi- 
cating drinks, made from corn steeped in water. 76 These 
beverages are prepared in different ways throughout Gaul 
and the provinces 'of Spain; under different names, too, 
though in their results they are the same. The Spanish 
provinces have even taught us the fact that these liquors are 
capable of beiug kept till they have attained a considerable 
age. Egj T pt, 77 too, has invented for its use a very similar beve- 
rage made from corn; indeed, in no part of the world is 
drunkenness ever at a loss. And then, besides, they take these 
drinks unmixed, and do not dilute them with water, the way 
that wine is modified ; and yet, by Hercules ! one really might 
have supposed that there the earth produced nothing but corn 
for the peoj)le's use. Alas! what wondrous skill, and yet 
how misplaced ! means have absolutely been discovered for 
getting drunk upon water even. 

There are two liquids that are peculiarly grateful to the 
human body, wine within and oil without; both of them 
the produce of trees, and most excellent in their respective 
kinds. Oil, indeed, we may pronounce an absolute necessary, 
nor has mankind been slow to employ all the arts of invention 
in the manufacture of it. How much more ingenious, how- 
ever, man has shown himself in devising various kinds of 
drink will be evident from the fact, that there are no less 

76 He alludes to beer, or ratlier sweet wort, for hops were not used till 
the latter part, probably, of the middle ages. Lupines were sometimes used 
for flavouring beer. 

77 Diodorus Siculus says that the Egyptian beer was nearly equal to 
wine in strength and flavour. 

STJMMAltr. 275 

than one hundred and ninety-five different kinds of it ; in- 
deed, if all the varieties are reckoned, they will amount to 
nearly double that number. The various kinds of oil are 
much less numerous — we shall proceed to give an account of 
them in the following Book. 

Summary. — Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 
five hundred and ten. 

Roman authors quoted. — Cornelius Yalerianus, 78 Virgil, 79 
Celsus, 80 Cato the Censor, 81 Saserna, 82 father and son, Scrofa, 83 
M. Varro, 84 D. Silanus, 85 Fabius Pictor, 86 Trogus, 87 Hyginus, 88 
Flaccus Yerrius, 89 Grsecinus, 90 Julius Atticus, 91 Columella, 9 - 
Massurius Sabinus, 93 Fenestella, 94 Tergilla, 95 Maccius Plautus, 96 
Flavius, 97 Dossennus, 98 Scaevola," JElius, 1 Ateius Capito, 2 

78 See end of B. hi. " See end of B. vii. 

80 See end of B. vii. 8l See end of B. iii. 

82 See end of B. x. 83 See end of B. xi. 

84 See end of B. ii. 

85 Decimus Junius Silanus. He was commissioned by the senate, about 
B.C. 146, to translate into Latin the twenty-eight books of Mago, the 
Carthaginian, on Agriculture. See B. xviii. c. 5. 

86 See end of B. x. 87 See end of B. vii. 
88 See end of B. iii. 89 See end of B. iii. 

90 Julius Grrecinus. He was one of the most distinguished orators of 
his time. Having refused to accuse M. Julius Silanus, he was put to death 
a.d. 39. He wrote a work, in two books, on the culture of the vine. 

91 He was a contemporary of Celsus and Columella, the latter of whom 
states that he wrote a work on a peculiar method of cultivating the vine. 
See also B. xvii. c. 18. 9 ~ See end of B. viii. 

93 See end of B. vii. u See end of B. viii. 

95 Nothing is known of him. He may possibly have written on Hus- 
bandry, and seems to have spoken in dispraise of the son of Cicero. See 
c 28 of the present Book. 

9fi The famous Roman Comic poet, bom B.C. 184. Twenty of his come- 
dies are still in existence. 

97 For Alfius Flavius, see end of B. ix. ; for Cneius Flavius, see end of 
B. xii. 

9s Or Dorsenus Fabius, an ancient Comic dramatist, censured by Horace 
for the buffoonery of his characters, and the carelessness of his productions. 
In the loth Chapter of this Book, Pliny quotes a line from his Acharistio. 

99 Q. Mutius Sctevola, consul B.C. 95, and assassinated by C. Flavius 
Fimbria, having been proscribed by the Marian faction. He wrote several 
works on the Roman law, and Cicero was in the number of his disciples. 

1 Sextus iElius Paetus Catus. a celebrated jurisconsult, and consul n.u 
198. He wrote a work ou the Twelve Tables. 

2 See end of B. iii. 

T 2 

276 pltny's NATUKAL HISTOKY. [Book XIV. 

Cotta Messalinus, L. Piso, 4 Pompeius Lenaeus, 5 Pabianus, 6 
Sextius Niger, 7 Vibius Eufus. 8 

Foreign authors quoted.— Hesiod, 9 Theophrastus, 10 Aris- 
totle, 11 Democritus, 12 King Hiero, 13 King Attaius Philometor, 14 
Archytas, 15 Xenophon, 16 Amphilochus 17 of Athens, Anaxipolis 18 
of Thasos, Apollodorus 19 of Lemnos, Aristophanes 20 of Miletus, 
Antigonus 21 of Cymae, Agathocles 22 of Chios, Apollonius 23 of 
Perganius, Aristander 4 of Athens, Botrys 25 of Athens, Bacchius 26 
of Miletus, Bion 27 of Soli, Chorea 28 of Athens, Chaeristus 29 of 
Athens, Diodorus 30 of Priene, Dion 31 of Colophon, Epigenes 32 
of Rhodes, Euagon 33 of Thasos, Euphronius 34 of Athens, An- 
drotiori 35 who wrote on agriculture, iEsehrion 36 who wrote on 
agriculture, Lysimachus 37 who wrote on agriculture, Dio- 
nysius 38 who translated Mago, Diophanes 39 who made an 
Epitome of the work of Dionysius, Asclepiades 40 the Physician, 
Onesicritus, 41 King Juba. 42 

3 Son of Corvinus Messala. He appears to have been a man of bad re- 
pute : of his writings nothing seems to be known. 

5 See end of B. ii. » 

4 A freedman of Pompey, by whose command he translated into Latin 
the work of Mithridates on Poisons. After Pompey's death, he maintained 
himself by keeping a school at Rome. 

6 For Fabianus Papirius, see end of B. ii. Fabianus Sabinus is sup- 
posed to have been the same person. 

7 See end of B. xii. 

8 He is mentioned by the elder Seneca, but nothing whatever is known 
of him. 

9 See end of B. vii. 10 See end of B. in. 

11 See end of B. ii. 12 See end of B. ii. 

13 See end of B. viii. u See end of B. viii. 

J 5 See end of B. viii. 16 See end of B. iv. 

17 See end of B. viii. 18 See end of B. viii. 

19 See end of B. viii. 20 See end of B. viii. 

21 See end of B. viii. 22 See end of B. viii. 

23 See end of B. viii. 24 See end of B. viii. 

2 s See end of B. xiii. 26 See end of B. viii. 

27 See end of B. vi. 28 See end of B. viii. 
29 Supposed to have been a writer on Agriculture, but nothing farther is 

known of him. 30 See end of B. viii. 

31 See end of B. viii. 32 See end of B. ii. 

33 See end of B. x. - 34 See end of B. viii. 

55 See end of B. viii. 36 See end of B. vm. 

37 See end of B. viii. 38 See end of B. xii. 

39 See end of B. viii. 4ft See end of B vii. 

41 See end of B. ii. 42 See end of B. v. 






Theophrastf/s, 1 one of the most famous among the Greek 
writers, who flourished about the year 440 of the City of 
Rome has asserted that the olive 1 * does not grow at a distance 
of more than forty 2 miles from the sea. Fenestella tells us 
that in the year of Rome 173, being the reign of Tarquinms 
Priscus, it did not exist in Italy, Spain, or Africa; 3 whereas 
at the present day it has crossed the Alps even, and has been 
introduced into the two provinces of Gaul and the middle of 
Spain. In the year of Rome 505, Appius Claudius, grandson 
of Appius Claudius Ccecus, and L. Junius being consuls, twelve 
pounds of oil sold for an as ; and at a later period, in the year 
680 M Seius, son of Lucius, the curule sedile, regulated the 
price of olive oil at Rome, at the rate of ten pounds for the as, 
for the whole year. A person will be the less surprised at 
this when he learns that twenty-two years after, in the third 
consulship of Cn. Pompeius, Italy was able to export olive oil 
to the provinces. 

Hesiod, 4 who looked upon an acquaintance with agriculture 

i Hist. Plant, iv. c. . 

i* The Olea Europaea of Linnaeus. See B. xxi. c. di. 

2 This has not been observed to be the fact. It has been known to 
srrow in ancient Mesopotamia, more than one hundred leagues from the sea 

3 It is supposed that it is indigenous to Asia, whence it was introduced 
into Africa and the South of Europe. There is little doubt that long 
before the period mentioned by Pliny, it was grown m Africa by the Car- 
thaginians, and in the South of Gaul, at the colony of Massilia. 

4°This work of Hesiod is no longer in existence ; but the assertion is 
exaggerated, even if he alludes to the growth of the tree from seed. * ee 
remarks that a man who "has sown the olive at twenty, may gather excel- 
lent fruit before he arrives at old age. It is more generally propagated 
by slips or sets. If the trunk is destroyed by accident, the roots will throw 
out fresh suckers. 


as conducive in the very highest degree to the comforts of life, 
has declared that there was no one who had ever gathered fruit 
from the olive-tree that had been sown by his own hands, so 
slow was it in reaching maturity in those times ; whereas, now 
at the present day, it is sown in nurseries even, and if trans- 
planted will bear fruit the following year. 


Fabianua maintains that the olive will grow 5 neither in 
very cold climates, nor yet in very hot ones. Virgil 6 has 
mentioned three varieties of the olive, the orchites, 7 the 
radius, 8 and the posia ; 9 and says that they require no raking 
or pruning, nor, in fact, any attention whatever. There is no 
doubt that in the case of these plants, soil and climate are the 
things of primary importance ; but still, it is usual to prune 
them at the same time as the vine, and they are improved by 
lopping between them every here and there. The gathering of 
the olive follows that of the grape, and there is even a greater 
degree of skill required in preparing 10 oil than in making 
wine ; for the very same olives will frequently give quite 
different results. The first oil of all, produced from the raw n 
olive before it has begun to ripen, is considered preferable 
to all the others in flavour ; in this kind, too, the first 12 drop- 
pings of the press are the most esteemed, diminishing gradually 
in goodness and value ; and this, whether the wicker-work 13 
basket is used in making it, or whether, following the more 

5 This is the case. "We may remark that the tree will grow in this 
country, but the fruit never comes to maturity. 

6 Georg. ii. 85, also ii. 420. 

' Probably the Olea maximo fructu of Tournefort. It has its name 
from the Greek opxiQ, the "testis," a name by which it is still known in 
some parts of Provence. 

8 Or "shuttle" olive. Probably the modern pickoline, or long olive. 

9 Probahly the Olca media rotunda praecox of Tournefort. It is 
slightly bitter. 

10 This is so much the case, that though the olives of Spain and Por- 
tugal are among the finest, their oils are of the very worst quality. 

11 It does not appear that the method of preparing oil by the use of 
boiling water was known to the ancients. Unripe olives produce an ex- 
cellent oil, but in very small quantities. Hence they are rarely used for 
the purpose. 

12 Called "virgin," or "native" oil in France, and very highly esteemed. 

13 Sporta. 

Chap. 3.] OLIVE OIL. 279 

recent plan, the pulp is put in a stick strainer, with narrow 
spikes and interstices. 14 The riper the beny, the more unctu- 
ous the juice, and the less agreeable the taste. 15 To obtain a 
result both abundant and of excellent flavour, the best time to 
gather it is when the berry is just on the point of turning 
black. In this state it is called " druppa" by us, by the 

Greeks, "drypetis." 

In addition to these distinctions, it is of importance to 
observe whether the berry ripens in the press or while on the 
branch ; whether the tree has been watered, or whether the 
fruit has been nurtured solely by its own juices, and has 
imbibed nothing else but the dews of heaven. 



It is not with olive oil as it is with wine, for by age it ac- 
quires a bad flavour, 16 and at the end of a year it is already 
old. This, if rightly understood, is a wise provision on the 
part of Nature : wine, which is only produced for the drunkard, 
she has seen no necessity for us to use when new ; indeed, 
by the fine flavour which it acquires with age, she rather 
invites us to keep it ; but, on the other hand, she has not willed 
that we should be thus sparing of oil, and so has rendered its 
use common and universal by the very necessity there is of using 
it while fresh. 

In the production of this blessing as well, 17 Italy holds the 
highest rank among all countries, 18 and more particularly the 
territory of Yenafrum, 19 that part of it in especial which 
produces the Licinian oil ; the qualities of which have conferred 
upon the Licinian olive the very highest renown. It is our 

l * " Exilibus regulis." A kind of wooden strainer, apparently invented 
to supersede the wicker, or basket strainer. 

is It is more insipid the riper the fruit, and the less odorous. 

16 By absorbing the oxygen of the air. It may be preserved two or 
three years even, in vessels hermetically closed. The oil of trance keeps 
better than any other. 

" As well as the grape. . _ . . 

is In consequence of the faulty mode of manufacture, the oil ot Italy is 
now inferior to that of France. The oil of Aix is particularly esteemed. 

is In Campania. See B. xvii. c. 3. Horace and Martial speak m 
praise of the Venafran olive. Hardouin suggests that Licmius Crussus 
may have introduced the Licinian olive. 

280 flint's natural history. [Book XY. 

unguents which have brought this oil into such great esteem, 
the peculiar odour of it adapting itself so well to the full 
developement of their qualities; at the same time its delicate fla- 
vour equally enlists the palate in its behalf. In addition to 
this, birds will never touch the berry of the Licinian olive. 

Next to Italy, the contest is maintained, and on very equal 
terms, between the territories of Istria and of Baetica. The 
next rank for excellence is claimed by the other provinces of 
our Empire, with the exception of Africa, 20 the soil of which 
is better adapted for grain. That country Nature has given 
exclusively to the cereals ; of oil and wine she has all but 
deprived it, securing it a sufficient share of renown by its 
abundant harvests. As to the remaining particulars connected 
with the olive, they are replete with erroneous notions, and I 
shall have occasion to show that there is no part of our agri- 
cultural economy upon which people have been more gene- 
rally mistaken. 

(3.) The olive is composed of a stone, oil, flesh, and 
amurca : 21 the last being a bitter liquid, principally composed 
of water ; hence it is that in seasons of drought it is less plen- 
tiful, and more abundant when rains 22 have prevailed. The 
oil is a juice peculiar to the olive, a fact more particularly 
stated in reference to its unripe state, as we have already 
mentioned when speaking of omphacium. 23 This oil continues 
on the increase up to the rising of Arcturus, 24 or in other 
words, the sixteenth day before the calends of October ; 25 after 
which the increase is in the stone and the flesh. When drought 
has been followed by abundant rains, the oil is spoilt, and 
turns to amurca. It is the colour of this amurca that makes 
the olive turn black; hence, when the berry is just beginning 
to turn that colour, there is but little amurca in it, and before 
that period none at all. It is an error then, on the part of 
persons, to suppose that that is the commencement of maturity, 

20 The heat of Africa is unfavourable to the olive. 

21 The faeces, marc, or lees. This is a crude juice contained in the 
cellular tissue of the fruit, known as viridine or chlorophyUe. 

22 This is owing, Fee says, to a sort of fermentation, which alters the 
tissue of the cells containing the oil, displaces the constituent elements, 
and forms others, such as mucus, sugar, acetic acid, ammoniac, &c. "When 
ripe, the olive contains four oils ; that of the skin, the flesh, the stone, 
and the kernel. 

m In B. xii. c. 60. 24 See B. xviii. c. 74. 

25 16th of September. 


which is in reality only the near approach of corruption. A 
second error, too, is the supposition that the oil increases pro- 
portionably to the flesh of the berry, it being the fact that the 
oil is all the time undergoing a change into flesh, and the stone 
is growing larger and larger within. It is for this reason 
more particularly, that care is taken to water the tree at this 
period ; the real result of all this care and attention, as well as 
of the fall of copious rains, being, that the oil in reality is 
absorbed as the berry increases in size, unless fine dry weather 
should happen to set in, which naturally tends to contract the 
volume of the fruit. According to Theophrastus, 26 heat is the 
sole primary cause of the oleaginous principle ; for which reason 
it is, that in the presses, 27 and in the cellars even, great fires 
are lighted to improve the quality of the oil. 

A third error arises from misplaced economy : to spare the 
expense of gathering, people are in the habit of waiting till the 
berry falls from the tree. Others, again, who wish to follow a 
middle course in this respect, beat the fruit off with poles, and 
so inflict injury on the tree and ensure loss in the succeeding 
year ; indeed, there was a very ancient regulation in existence 
relative to the gathering of the olive — " Neither pull nor 
beat the olive-tree. 28 " Those who would observe a still greater 
degree of precaution, strike the branches lightly with a reed on 
one side of them ; but even then the tree is reduced to bearing 
fruit but once in two years, 29 in consequence of the injury done 
to the buds. Not less injurious, however, are the results of 
waiting till the berries fall from the tree ; for, by remaining on 
it beyond the proper time, they deprive the crop that is coming 
on of its due share of nutriment, by occupying its place : a 
clear proof of which is, that if they are not gathered before the 
west winds prevail, they are found to have acquired renewed 
strength, and are all the later before they fall. 


The first olive that is gathered after the autumn is that 

*s De Causis, B. i. c. 23. 

27 This cannot possibly increase the oil, but it would render it more 
fluid, and thereby facilitate its escape from the cells of the berry. 

28 But Cato, Be Bust. c. 144, adds the very significant words, " injussu 
domini aut eustodis." " Without the leave of the owner or the keeper." 

29 It is found that the olive, after an abundant season, will not bear in 
the following year ; probably the result of exhaustion. 

282 PLI^y's KATTJRAL HISTOftY. [Book XV. 

known as the " posia,'" 30 the berry of which, owing to a vicious 
method of cultivation, and not any fault on the part of Na- 
ture, has the most flesh upon it. Next to this is the orchites, 
which contains the greatest quantity of oil, and then, after 
that, the radius. As these are of a peculiarly delicate nature, 
the heat very rapidly takes effect upon them, and the amurca 
they contain causes them to fall. On the other hand, the 
gathering of the tough, hard-skinned olive is put off so late as 
the month of March, it being well able to resist the effects of 
moisture, and, consequently, very small. Those varieties known 
as the Licinian, the Cominian, the Contian, and the Sergian, 
by the Sabines called the " royal" 31 olive, do not turn black 
before the west winds prevail, or, in other words, before the 
sixth day before 32 the ides of February. At this period it is 
generally thought that they begin to ripen, and as a most ex- 
cellent oil is extracted from them, experience would seem to 
give its support to a theory which, in reality, is altogether 
wrong. The growers say that in the same degree that cold 
diminishes the oil, the ripeness of the berry augments it; 
whereas, in reality, the goodness of the oil is owing, not to 
the period at which the olives are gathered, but to the natural 
properties of this peculiar variety, in which the oil is remark- 
ably slow in turning to amurca. 

A similar error, too, is committed by those who keep the 
olives, when gathered, upon a layer of boards, and do not 
press the fruit till it has thrown out a sweat ; it being the 
fact that every hour lost tends to diminish the oil and increase 
the amurca : the consequence is, that, according to the ordi- 
nary computation, a modius of olives yields no more than six 
pounds of oil. No one, however, ever takes account of the 
quantity of amurca to ascertain, in reference to the same 
kind of berry, to what extent it increases daily in amount. 
Then, again, it is a very general error 33 among practical per- 
sons to suppose that the oil increases proportionably to the 
increased size of the berry ; and more particularly so when it 
is so clearly proved that such is not the case, with reference to 

30 More commonly spelt " pausia." 

31 " Regia." It is impossible to identify these varieties. 
82 8th of February. 

33 Tbis assertion of Pliny is not generally true. The large olives of 
Spain yield oil very plentifully. 


the variety known as the royal olive, by some called majorina, 
and by others phaulia ; 34 this berry being of the very largest 
size, and yet yielding a minimum of juice. In Egypt, 35 too, 
the berries, which are remarkably meaty, are found to produce 
but very little oil ; while those of Decapolis, in Syria, are so 
extremely small, that they are no bigger than a caper ; and 
yet they are highly esteemed for their flesh. 36 It is for this 
reason that the olives from the parts beyond sea are preferred 
for table to those of Italy, though, at the same time, they are 
very inferior to them for making oil. 

In Italy, those of Picenum and of Sidicina 37 are considered 
the best for table. These are kept apart from the others and 
steeped in salt, after which, like other olives, they are put in 
amurca, or else boiled wine ; indeed, some of them are left to 
float solely in their own oil, 38 without any adventitious mode 
of preparation, and are then known as colymbades : sometimes 
the berry is crushed, and then seasoned with green herbs to 
flavour it. Even in an unripe state the olive is rendered fit 
for eating by being sprinkled with boiling water ; it is quite 
surprising, too, how readily it will imbibe sweet juices, and 
retain an adventitious flavour from foreign substances. With 
this fruit, as with the grape, there are purple 39 varieties, and 
the posia is of a complexion approaching to black. Besides 
those already mentioned, there are the superba 40 and a remark- 
ably luscious kind, which dries of itself, and is even sweeter 
than the raisin : this last variety is extremely rare, and is to 

34 Probably a member of the variety known to naturalists as the Olea 
fructu majori, carne crassa, of Tournefort, the royal olive or " triparde " of 
the French. The name is thought to be from the Greek cpdvXog, the 
fruit being considered valueless from its paucity of oil. 

35 There are but few olive-trees in either Egypt or Decapolis at the 
present day, and no attempts are made to extract oil from them. 

36 " Carnis." He gives this name to the solid part, or pericarp. 

37 See B. iii. c. 9. 

38 These methods are not now adopted for preserving the olive. The 
fruit are first washed in an alkaline solution, and then placed in salt and 
water. The colymbas was so called from Ko\vfif3d<D } "to swim," in its 
own oil, namely. ^ Dioscorides descants on the medicinal properties of the 
colymbades. ±5. i. c. 140. 

39 There are several varieties known of this colour, and more particularly 
the fruit of the Olea atro-rubens of Gouan. 

40 The Spanish olive, Hardouin says. Fee thinks that the name " super- 
ba," "haughty," is given figuratively, as meaning rough and austere. 

284 plint's natural history. [Book XV. 

be found in Africa and in the vicinity of Emerita 41 in Lusi- 
tania. . . . , 

The oil of the olive is prevented from getting 42 thick and 
rancid by the admixture of salt. By making an incision in 
the bark of the tree, an aromatic odour may be imparted to 
the oil. Any other mode of seasoning, such, for instance, as 
those used with reference to wine, is not at all gratifying to 
the palate ; nor do we find so many varieties in oil as there 
are in the produce of the grape, there being, in general, but 
three different degrees of goodness. In fine oil the odour is 
more penetrating, but even in the very best it is but short- 


It is one of the properties of oil to impart warmth to the 
body, and to protect it against the action of cold ; while at 
the same time it promotes coolness in the head when heated. 
The Greeks, those parents of all vices, have abused it by mak- 
ing it minister to luxury, and employing it commonly in the 
gymnasium : indeed, it is a well-known fact that the gover- 
nors of those establishments have sold the scrapings 44 of the 
oil used there for a sum of eighty thousand sesterces. The 
majesty of the Eoman sway has conferred high honour upon 
the olive : crowned with it, the troops of the Equestrian order 
are wont to defile upon the ides of July ; 45 it is used, too, by 
the victor in the minor triumphs of the ovation. 46 At Athens, 

41 The olives of the present Merida, in Spain, are of a rough, disagree- 
able flavour. . .... ^, , v 

42 This seems to be the meaning of "pmguis; but, as lee observes, 
salt would have no such effect as here stated, but would impart a disagree- 
able flavour to the oil. 

43 Fee regards this assertion as quite fabulous. 

44 It will be stated in B. xxviii. c. 13, to wbat purposes this abominable 
collection of filth was applied. ,«■«»'.* *■ u 

« 15th of July. He alludes to tbe inspection of the Eqmtes, which 
originally belonged to the Censors, but afterwards to the Emperors. On 
this occasion there was " recognitio," or "review," and then a "trans- 
vectio," or " procession " of the horsemen. 

46 The ovation was a lesser triumph, at which the general entered the 
city not in a chariot, but on foot. In later times, however, the victor en- 
tered on horseback : and a wreath of myrtle, sometimes laurel, was worn 
by him. For further particulars as to the ovation, see c. 38 of the present 

Chap. 6.] CULTURE OF THE OLITE. 285 

also, they are in the habit of crowning the conqueror with 
olive ; and at Olympia, the Greeks employ the wild olive 47 for 
a similar purpose. 


We will now proceed to mention the precepts given by Cato 48 
in relation to this subject. Upon a warm, rich 49 soil, he 
recommends us to sow the greater radius, the Salentina, the 
orchites, the posia, the Sergian, the Cominian, and the albi- 
cera; 50 but with a remarkable degree of prudence he adds, 
that 'those varieties ought to be planted in preference which 
are considered to thrive best in the neighbouring localities. In 
a cold 51 and meagre soil he says that the Licinian olive should 
be planted ; and he informs us that a rich or hot soil has the 
effect, in this last variety, of spoiling the oil, while the tree 
becomes exhausted by its own fertility, and is liable to be 
attacked by a sort of red moss. 52 He states it as his opinion 
that the olive grounds ought to have a western aspect, and, 
indeed, he approves of no other. 

(6.) According to him, the best method of preserving olives 
is to put the orchites and the posia, while green, in a strong 
brine, or else to bruise them first, and preserve them in mastich 
oil. 53 The more bitter the olive, he says, the better the oil ; 
but they should be gathered from the ground the very moment 
they fall, and washed if they are dirty. He says that three 
days will be quite sufficient for drying them, and that if it 
is frosty weather, they should be pressed on the fourth, care 
being taken to sprinkle them with salt. Olives, he informs 
us, 54 lose oil by being kept in a boarded store-room, and dete- 
riorate in quality ; the same being the case, too, if the oil is 

47 Or " oleaster." 48 ^ e R 6 Rust. c. 6. 

49 A middling or even poor soil is chosen for the olive at the present day. 

50 Apparently meaning the " white wax" olive. 

51 In warm countries, a site exposed to the north is chosen : in colder 
ones, a site which faces the south. 

52 See B. xvii. c. 37. This moss has not heen identified with precision ; 
but the leaf of the olive is often attacked by an erysiphus, known to natu- 
ralists as the Alphitomorpha communis ; but it is white, not of a red colour. 

5 3 Fee queries how any one could possibly eat olives that had been 
steeped in a solution of mastich. They must have been nauseous m the 
extreme. 54 *>e Re Rust. c. 64. 


left with the am urea and the pulp, 55 or, in other words, the flesh 
of the olive that forms the residue and becomes the dregs. 
For this reason, he recommends that the oil should be poured 
off several times in the day, and then put into vessels or caul- 
drons S6 of lead, for copper vessels will spoil it, he says. All 
these operations, however, should be carried on with presses 
heated and tightly closed, 57 and exposed to the air as little as 
possible — for which reason he recommends that wood should 
never be cut there, the most convenient fuel for the fires being 
the stones of the berries. From the cauldron the oil should 
be poured into vats, 5b in order that the pulp and the amurca 
may be disengaged in a solidified form : to effect which object 
the vessels should be changed as often as convenient, while at 
the same time the osier baskets should be carefully cleaned with 
a sponge, that the oil may run out in as clean and pure a state 
as possible. 

In later times, the plan has been adopted of invariably 
crushing the olives in boiling water, and at once putting thern 
whole in the press — a method of effectually extracting the 
amurca — and then, after crushing them in the oil-press, sub- 
jecting them to pressure once more. It is recommended, that 
not more than one hundred modii should be pressed at one 
time : the name given to this quantity is " factus," 59 while the 
oil that flows out at the first pressure is called the " flos." 60 
Four men, working at two presses day and night, ought to 
be able to press out three factuses of olives. 


In those times artificial oils had not been introduced, ancl 

55 " Fracibus." The opinion of Pliny, that olives deteriorate by being left 
in the store-room, is considered to be well founded ; the olives being apt 
to ferment, to the deterioration of the oil : at the same time, he is wrong 
in supposing that the amount of oil diminishes by keeping the berries. 

» 6 " Cortinas." If we may j udge from the name, these vessels were three- 
footed, like a tripod. 

51 There are no good grounds for this recommendation, which is based 
on the erroneous supposition that heat increases the oil in the berry. The 
free circulation of the air also ought not to be restricted, as _ nothing is 
gained by it. In general, the method of extracting the oil is the same 
with the moderns as with the ancients, though these last did not employ 
the aid of boiling water. 51 Liibra. 

^ A " making," or " batch." cu Or " flower." 

Chap. 7.] ARTIFICIAL OILS. 287 

hence it is, I suppose, that we find no mention made of them 
by Cato ; at the present day the varieties are very numerous. 
We will first speak of those 61 which are produced from trees, 
and among them more particularly the wild olive. 62 This 
olive is small, and much more bitter than the cultivated one, 
and hence its oil is only used in medicinal preparations : the 
oil that bears the closest resemblance to it is that extracted 
from the chamelsea, 63 a shrub which grows among the rocks, 
and not more than a palm in height ; the leaves and berries 
being similar to those of the wild olive. A third oil is that 
made of the fruit of the cicus, 64 a tree which grows in Egypt 
in great abundance ; by some it is known as croton, by others 
as sili, and by others, again, as wild sesamum : it is not so very 
long since this tree was first introduced here. In Spain, too, 
it shoots up with great rapidity to the size of the olive-tree, 
having a stem like that of the ferula, the leaf of the vine, 
and a seed that bears a resemblance to a small pale grape. 
Our people are. in the habit of calling it " ricinus," 65 from the 
resemblance of the seed to that insect. It is boiled in water, 66 
and the oil that swims on the surface is then skimmed off: 
but in Egypt, where it grows in a greater abundance, the oil is 
extracted without employing either fire or water for the pur- 
pose, the seed being first sprinkled with salt, and then sub- 
jected to pressure : eaten with food this oil is repulsive, but it 
is very useful for burning in lamps. 

Amygdalinum, by some persons known as " metopium," 67 

61 It may be remarked, that in this Chapter Pliny totally confounds 
fixed oils, volatile oils, and medicinal oils. Those in the list which he here 
gives, and which are not otherwise noticed in the Notes, may he considered 
to belong to this last class. 

62 The oleaster furnishes but little oil, and it is seldom extracted. The 
oil is thinner than ordinary olive oil, and has a stronger odour. 

63 The Daphne Cnoorum and Daphne Cnidium of botanists. See B. 
xiii. c. 3% also B. xxiv. c. 82. Fee doubts if an oil was ever made from 
the chamclaea. 

64 See B. xxiii. c. 41 : the Ricinus communis of Linnaeus, which 
abounds in Egypt at the present day. Though it appears to have been 
formerly sometimes used for the table, at the present day the oil is only 
known as " castor " oil. a strong purgative. It is one of the fixed oils. The 
Jews and Abyssinian Christians say that it was under this tree that Jonah 
sat. es a " tick." 

63 This method, Fee says, is still pursued in America. 
67 See B. xiii. c. 2. One of the fixed oils. 

288 plint's NATUEAL HISTOEY. [Book XV' 

is made of bitter almonds dried and beaten into a cake, after 
which they are steeped in water, and then beaten again. An 
oil is extracted from the laurel also, with the aid of olive oil. 
Some persons use the berries only for this purpose, while 
others, again, employ the leaves ^ and the outer skin of the 
berries: some add storax also, and other odoriferous sub- 
stances. The best kind for this purpose is the broad-leaved or 
wild laurel, 69 with a black berry. The oil, too, of the black 
myrtle is of a similar nature ; that with the broad leaf 70 is 
reckoned also the best. The berries are first sprinkled with 
warm water, and then beaten, after which they are boiled : 
some persons take the more tender leaves, and boil them in 
olive oil, and then subject them to pressure, while others, again, 
steep them in oil, and leave the mixture to ripen in the sun. 
The same method is also adopted with the cultivated myrtle, 
but the wild variety with small berries is generally preferred ; 
by some it is known as the oxymyrsine, by others as the cha- 
msemyrsine, and by others, again, as the acoron, 71 from its 
strong resemblance to that plant, it being short and branching. 
An oil is made, too, from the citrus, 72 and from the cypress ; 
also, from the walnut, 73 and known by the name of " caryi- 
non," 74 and from the fruit of the cedar, being generally 
known as " pisseheon." 75 Oil is extracted from the grain of 
Cnidos, 76 the seed being first thoroughly cleaned, and then 

68 An essential oil may be extracted from either ; it is of acrid taste, 
green, and aromatic ; but does not seem to have been known to the an- 
cients. The berries give by decoction a fixed oil, of green colour, sweet, 
and odoriferous. The oils in general here spoken of by Pliny as extracted 
from the laurel, are medicinal oils. 

69 The Laurus latifolia of Bauhin. 

70 The Myrtus latifolia Romana of Bauhin. It yields an essential oil, 
and by its decoction might give a fixed oil, in small quantity, but very 
odoriferous. As boiled with olive oil, he treats it as a volatile oil. 

71 See B. xxv. c. 100. This myrtle is the Ruscus aculeatus of Linnaeus. 

72 See B. xiii. c. 29, and B xxiii. c. 45. A volatile oil might be ex- 
tracted from the citrus, if one of the thuyae, as also from the cypress. 

73 See B. xxiii. c. 45. It is a fixed oil, still considerably used in some 
parts of Europe. 

74 From the Greek icapva, a " walnut." 

75 " Pitch oil." See B. xxiv. c. 11. This would be a volatile oil. 

76 See B. xxiii. c. 45, also B. xiii. c. 35. Fee is of opinion, that as no 
fixed oil can be extracted from the Daphne Cnidium or Daphne Cneoruni, 
Pliny must allude to a medicinal composition, like the oil of wild myrtle, 
previously mentioned. 

Chap. 7.] 


pounded; and from mastich 77 also. As to the oil called 
" cyprinum," 78 and that extracted from the Egyptian 79 berry, 
we have already mentioned the mode in which they are pre- 
pared as perfumes. The Indians, too, are said to extract oils 
from the chesnut, 80 sesanium, and rice, 81 and the Ichthy- 
ophagi S2 from fish. Scarcity of oil for the supply of lamps 
sometimes compels us to make it from the berries 83 of the plane- 
tree, which are first steeped in salt and water. 

(Enanthinum, 84 again, is made from the oenanthe, as we have 
already stated when speaking of perfumes. In making gleu- 
cinum, S5 must is boiled with olive-oil at a slow heat ; some 
persons, however, do not employ fire in making it, but leave a 
vessel, filled with oil and must, surrounded with grape husks, 
for two and twenty days, taking care to stir it twice a day : 
by the end of that period the whole of the must is imbibed 
by the oil. Some persons mix with this not only sampsu- 
chum, but perfumes of still greater price : that, too, which is 
used in the gymnasia is scented with perfumes as well, but 
those of the very lowest quality. Oils are made, too, from as- 
palathus, 86 from calamus, 87 balsamum, 88 cardamum, 89 melilot, 
Gallic nard, panax, 90 sampsuchum, 91 helenium, and root of 
cinnamomum, 92 the plants being first left to steep in oil, and 
then pressed. In a similar manner, too, rhodinum 93 is made 
from roses, and juncinum from the sweet rush, bearing a remark- 
able 94 resemblance to rose-oil : other oils, again, are extracted 

77 A fixed oil. See B. xii. c. 36. The seeds were used for making it. 
See B. xxiii. c. 45. 

™ See B. xii. c. 51, and B. xxiii. c. 45. The leaves of the Lawsoma 
are very odoriferous. ... 

'9 The myrobalanus, or ben. See B. xii. c. 46, and B. xxm. c. 4b. 

so Neither the chesnut nor rice produce any kind of fixed oil. 

si See B. xvii. c. 13. 

82 Or Fish-eaters. See B. xxxii. c. 38. This is one of the fixed oils. 

w In reality, no fixed oil can he obtained from them. 

84 Or wild vine. See B. xii. c. 61, and B. xiii. c. 2. 

85 Not an oil, so much as a medicinal preparation. Dioscondes mentions 
as component parts of it, omphacium, sweet rush, Celtic nard, ? aspalathus, 
costus, and must. It received its name from yXtvicog, "must." _ 

86 The Convolvulus scoparius of Linnaeus. See B. xii. c 52, and B. xni. 
c 2 87 See B. xii. c. 95. 

' 88 See B. xii. c. 54, and B. xiii. c. 2. 89 See B. xii. c. 29. 
so See B. xii. c. 57. 91 See B. xiii. e. 2, p. 163. 

92 See B. xii. c. 41. 93 See B. xiu. c. 2. 

a* Fee doubts the possibility of such a resemblance. 

290 plint's NATURAL HISTOET. [Book XV. 

from henbane, 95 lupines, 96 and narcissus. Great quantities of 
oil are made in Egypt, too, of radish 97 seed, or else of a 
common grass known there as chortinon." Sesamum " also 
yields an oil, and so does the nettle, 1 its oil being known as 
" cnidinum." 2 In other countries, too, an oil is extracted 
from lilies 3 left to steep in the open air, and subjected to the 
influence of the sun, moon, and frosts. On the borders of 
Cappadocia and Galatia, they make an oil from the herbs of 
the country, known as " Selgicum," 4 remarkably useful for 
strengthening the tendons, similar, in fact, to that of Iguvium 5 
in Italy. From pitch an oil 6 is extracted, that is known as 
" pissinum ;" it is made by boiling the pitch, and spreading 
fleeces over the vessels to catch the steam, and then wring- 
ing them out : the most approved kind is that which comes 
from Bruttium, the pitch of that country being remarkably 
rich and resinous : the colour of this oil is yellow. 

There is an oil that grows spontaneously in the maritime 
parts of Syria, known to us as " elaeonieli ;" 7 it is an unctuous 
substance which distils from certain trees, of a thicker consis- 
tency than honey, but somewhat thinner than resin ; it has a 
sweet flavour, and is employed for medicinal purposes. Old 
olive oil 8 is of use for some kinds of maladies ; it is thought to 

95 Hyoscyamns. A medicinal oil is still extracted from it. See B. xxiii. 
c. 49. 

96 This medicinal oil is no longer used. The Lupiuus albus was formerly 
held in greater esteem than it is now. 

97 The Raphanus sativus of Linnaeus. See B. xix. c. 26. This is one 
of the fixed oils ; varieties of it are rape oil, and colza oil, now so exten- 
sively used. 

98 From the Greek xoproc, " grass." This medicinal oil would be to- 
tally without power or effect. 

99 A fixed oil is still extracted in Egypt from the grain known as sesa- 
mum. i See B. xxii. c. 15. 

2 From KviSi], a " nettle." The nettle, or Urtica urens of Linngeus, has 
no oleaginous principles in its seed. 

3 Lily oil is still used as a medicinal composition : it is made from the 
petals of the white lily, Lilium candidum of Linnaeus. 

4 From Selga, a town of Pisidia. See B. xxiii. c. 49. 

5 See B. iii. c. 9, and B. xxiii. c. 49. 

6 A volatile oil, mixed with a small proportion of empyreumatic oil and 

7 " Oil-honey." Probably a terebinthine, or oleo-resin. See B. xxiii. 
c. 50. 

8 When rancid and oxygenized by age, it has an irritating quality, and 
may be found useful for herpetic diseases. 

Chap. 8.] AMTJECA. 291 

be particularly useful, too, in the preservation of ivory from 
decay : 9 at all events, the statue of Saturn, at Rome, is filled 
with oil in the interior. 

CHAP. 8. (8.) AMTJECA. 

But it is upon the praises of amurca 10 more particularly, that 
Cato 11 has enlarged. He recommends that vats and casks 1 " 
for keeping oil should be first seasoned with it, to prevent 
them from soaking up the oil ; and he tells us that threshing- 
floors should be well rubbed with it, to keep away ants, 13 
and to prevent any chinks or crannies from being left. 
The mortar, too, of walls, he says, ought to be seasoned with 
it, as well as the roofs and floors of granaries ; and he recom- 
mends that wardrobes should be sprinkled with amurca as a 
preservative against wood- worms and other noxious insects. 
He says, too, that all grain of the cereals should be steeped in 
it, and speaks of it as efficacious for the cure of maladies in 
cattle -as well as trees, and as useful even for ulcerations in 
the inside and upon the face of man. We learn from him, also, 
that thongs, all articles made of leather, sandals, and axle- 
trees used to be anointed with boiled amurca; which was 
employed also to preserve copper vessels against verdigrease, 14 
and to give them a better colour ; as also for the seasoning of 
all utensils made of wood, as well as the earthen jars in which 
dried figs were kept, or of sprigs of myrtle with the leaves 
and berries on, or any other articles of a similar nature : in 
addition to which, he asserts that wood which has been steeped 
in amurca will burn without producing a stifling smoke. 15 

According to M. Yarro, 16 an olive-tree which has been 
licked by the tongue of the she-goat, or upon which she has 

9 It very probably will have this effect ; but at the expense of the colour 
of the ivory, which very soon will turn yellow. 

10 It has quite lost its ancient repute : the only use it is now put to is 
the manufacture of an inferior soap. See B. xsiii. c. 37. 

11 De Re Rust. cc. 130, 169. 

12 Dolia and cadi. Fee observes, that this, if done with the modern 
vessels, would have a tendency to make the oil turn rancid. 

13 On the contrary, Fee is inclined to think it would attract them, from 
its mucilaginous properties. 

14 Olive oil, however, has a tendency to generate verdigrease in copper 

15 This, as Fee remarks, is probably so absurd as not to be worth dis- 
cussing. i6 Re Rust. R. i. c. 2. 

u 2 


browsed when it was first budding, 17 is sure to be barren. 
Thus much in reference to the olive and the oils. 


The other fruits found on trees can hardly be enumerated, 
from their diversity in shape and figure, without reference to 
their different flavours and juices, which have again been 
modified by repeated combinations and graftings. 

(10.) The largest fruit, and, indeed, the one that hangs at 
the greatest height, is the pine-nut. It contains within a 
number of small kernels, enclosed in arched beds, and covered 
with a coat of their own of rusty iron-colour ; Nature thus mani- 
festing a marvellous degree of care in providing its seeds with 
a soft receptacle. Another variety of this nut is the teren- 
tina, 18 the shell of which may be broken with the fingers ; and 
hence it becomes a prey to the birds while still on the tree. A 
third, again, is known as the " sappinia, 19 " being the produce 
of the cultivated pitch-tree : the kernels are enclosed in a 
skin more than a shell, which is so remarkably soft that it is 
eaten together with the fruit. A fourth variety is that known 
as the "pityis;" it is the produce of the pinaster, 20 and is 
remarkable as a good specific for coughs. The kernels are 
sometimes boiled in honey 21 among the Taurini, who then call 
them " aquiceli." The conquerors at the Isthmian games are 
crowned with a wreath of pine-leaves. 



Next in size after these are the fruit called by us " co- 
tonea," 22 by the Greeks " Cydonia," 23 and first introduced 

17 If she happens to have destroyed the huds, hut not otherwise. 

18 The Pinus cembro, probably, of Linnaeus. 

19 See B. xvi. c. 23. The nuts of the pine are sweet, and have an 
agreeable flavour. 

20 Probably the wild pine, the Pinus silvestris of the moderns. The 
nuts are slightly resinous. 

21 Neither the people of Turin nor of any other place are known at the 
present day to make this preparation. 

32 The quince, the Pirus Cydonia of Linnaeus. 

23 From Cydonia, a city of Crete. The Latin name is only a corruption 
of the Greek one : in England they were formerly called " melicotones." 


from the island of Crete. These fruit bend the branches with 
their weight, and so tend to impede the growth of the parent 
tree. The varieties are numerous. The chrysomelum 24 is 
marked with indentations down it, and has a colour inclining 
to gold ; the one that is known as the " Italian" quince, is of a 
paler complexion, and has a most exquisite smell : the quinces 
of Neapolis, too, are held in high esteem. The smaller varie- 
ties of the quince which are known as the " struthea," 25 have 
a more pungent smell, but ripen later than the others ; that 
called the " musteum," 26 ripens the soonest of all. The coto- 
neuni engrafted 27 on the strutheum, has produced a peculiar 
variety, known as the "Mulvianum," the only one of them 
all that is eaten raw. 28 At the present day all these varieties 
are kept shut up in the antechambers of great men, 29 where they 
receive the visits of their courtiers ; they are hung, too, upon 
the statues 30 that pass the night with us in our chambers. 

There is a small wild 31 quince also, the smell of which, next 
to that of the strutheum, is the most powerful ; it grows in 
the hedges. 


Under the head of apples, 32 we include a variety of fruits, 
although of an entirely different nature, such as the_ Persian 33 
apple, for instance, and the pomegranate, of which, when 
speaking of the tree, we have already enumerated 34 nine va- 
rieties. The pomegranate has a seed within, enclosed in a 

24 Or "golden apple." The quince was sacred to Venus, and was an 
emblem of love. 

23 Apparently meaning the " sparrow quince." Dioscondes, Galen, and 
Athenteus, however, say that it was a large variety. Qy. if in such case, 
it might not mean the ostrich quince ? 

26 " Earlv ripener." 

27 Quince's are not grafted on quinces at the present day, but the pear is. 

28 Fee suggests that this is a kind of pear. 

29 Probably on account of the fragrance of their scent. 

30 We learn from other sources that the bed-chambers were frequently 
ornamented with statues of the divinities. 

31 The Mala cotonea silvestris of Bauhin ; the Cydonia vulgaris of mo- 
dern botanists, 

32 "Mala." The term "malum," somewhat similar to u pome"wita 
us, was applied to a number of different fruits : the orange, the citron, 
the pomegranate, the apricot, and others. 

3 3 Or peach. 34 See B. siii. c. 34. 


294 pliny's natural history. [Book XV. 

skin ; the peach has a stone inside. Some among the pears, 
also, known as " libralia," 35 show, by their name, what a 
remarkable weight they attain. 

(12.) Among the peaches the palm must be awarded to the 
duracinus : 36 the Gallic and the Asiatic peach are distinguished 
respectively by the names of the countries of their origin. 
They ripen at the end of autumn, though some of the early 37 
kinds are ripe in the summer. It is only within the last thirty 
years that these last have been introduced; originally they 
were sold at the price of a denarius a piece. Those known as 
the " supernatia" 38 come from the country of the Sabines, but 
the " popularia" grow everywhere. This is a very harmless 
fruit, and a particular favourite with invalids : some, in fact, 
have sold before this as high as thirty sesterces apiece, a price 
that has never been exceeded by any other fruit. This, too, is 
the more to be wondered at, as there is none that is a worse 
keeper : for, when it is once plucked, the longest time that it 
will keep is a couple of days ; and so sold it must be, fetch 
what it may. 


Next comes a vast number of varieties of the plum, the 
parti-coloured, the black, 39 the white, 40 the barley 41 plum— 
so called, because it is ripe at barley-harvest— and another of 
the same colour as the last, but which ripens later, and is of a 
larger size, generally known as the " asinina," 4 - from the little 
esteem in which it is held. There are the onychina, too, the 

35 Or " pound- weight " pears : the Pivus volema of Linnaeus. 

36 Or " hard-berry" — prohably in reference to the firmness of the flesh. 
It is generally thought to be the nectarine. 

37 " Praecocia." It is generally thought that in this name originates 
the word "apricot," the Primus Armeniaca of Linnaeus. There is, how- 
ever, an early peach that ripens by the middle of July, though it is very 
doubtful if it was known to Pliny. 

3S " From above." 

■ 39 Perhaps the Prunus ungarica of naturalists, the black damask plum ; 
or else the Prunus perdrigona, the perdrigon. 

40 Probably the Prunus galatensis of naturalists. 

11 " Hordearia :" the Prunus praecox of naturalists ; probably our 
harvest plum. . 

43 Or "ass"-plum. The Prunus acinaria of naturalists: the cherry 

plum of the French. 

Chap. 12.] TWELVE KINDS OF PLUMS. 295 

cerina, 43 — more esteemed, and the purple 44 plum : the Arme- 
nian, 45 also an exotic from foreign parts, the only one among tho 
plums that recommends itself by its smell. The plum-tree 
grafted on the nut exhibits what we may call a piece of impu- 
dence quite its own, for it produces a fruit that has all the ap- 
pearance of the parent stock, together with the juice of the 
adopted fruit : in consequence of its being thus compounded of 
both, it is known by the name of " nuci-pruna." 46 Nut-prunes, 
as well as the peach, the wild plum, 47 and the cerina, are often 
put in casks, and so kept till the crop comes of the following 
year. All the other varieties ripen with the greatest rapidity, 
and pass off just as quickly. More recently, in Bsetica, they have 
begun to introduce what they call "malina," or the fruit of 
the plum engrafted on the apple-tree, 48 and " amygdalina," the 
fruit of the plum engrafted on the almond-tree, 49 the kernel 
found in the stone of these last being that of the almond ; 50 in- 
deed, there is no specimen in which two fruits have been more 
ingeniously combined in one. 

Among the foreign trees we have already spoken 51 of the 
Damascene 52 plum, so called from Damascus, in Syria, but 
introduced long since into Italy ; though the stone of this plum 
is larger than usual, and the flesh smaller in quantity. This 
plum will never dry so far as to wrinkle ; to effect that, it 
needs the sun of its own native country. The myxa, 53 too, 

43 Or "wax plum." The Primus cereola of naturalists : the mirabelle 
of the French. 

44 Possibly the Primus euucleata of Lamarck : the myrobalan of the 
French. Many varieties, however, are purple. 

45 There are two opinions on this : that it is the Prunus Claudiana of 
Lamarck, the " Reine Claude " of the French ; or else that it is identical 
with the apricot already mentioned, remarkable for the sweetness of its 
smell. 46 Or nut-prune. 

47 The Prunus insititia of Linnaeus. 

48 The result of this would only be a plum like that of the tree from 
which the graft was cut. 

49 The same as with reference to the graft on the apple. 

50 This is probably quite fabulous. 51 -B. xiii. c. 10. 

52 The Prunus Damascena of the naturalists ; our common damson, with 
its numerous varieties. 

53 Probably the Cordia myxa of Linnaeus ; the Sebestier of the French. 
It has a viscous pulp, and is much used as a pectoral. It grows only in 
Syria and Egypt ; and hence Fee is inclined to reject what Pliny says as 
to its naturalization at Rome, and the account he gives as to its being en- 
grafted on the sorb. 

296 plot's natural history. [Book XV. 

may be mentioned, as being the fellow-countryman of tbe 
Damascene : it has of late been introduced into Rome, and 
has been grown engrafted upon the sorb. 


The name of " Persica," or " Persian apple," given to this 
fruit, fully proves that it is an exotic in both Greece as well 
as Asia, 54 and that it was first introduced from Persis. As to 
the wild plum, it is a well-known fact that it will grow any- 
where ; and I am, therefore, the more surprised that no men- 
tion has been made of it by Cato, more particularly as he has 
pointed out the method of preserving several of the wild 
fruits as well. As to the peach-tree, it has been only intro- 
duced of late years, and with considerable difficulty ; so much 
so, that it is perfectly barren in the Isle of Rhodes, the first 
resting-place 55 that it found after leaving Egypt. 

It is quite untrue that the peach which grows in Persia is 
poisonous, and produces dreadful tortures, or that the kings 
of that country, from motives of revenge, had it transplanted 
in Egypt, where, through the nature of the soil, it lost all its 
evil properties— for we find that it is of the " persea" 66 that 
the more careful writers have stated all this, 57 a totally different 
tree, the fruit of which resembles the red myxa^and, indeed, 
cannot be successfully cultivated anywhere but in the East. 
The learned have also maintained that it was not introduced 
from Persis into Egypt with the view of inflicting punishment, 
but say that it was planted at Memphis by Perseus ; for 
which reason it was that Alexander gave orders that the vic- 
tors should be crowned with it in tbe games which he insti- 
tuted there in honour of his 58 ancestor : indeed, this tree has 
always leaves and fruit upon it, growing immediately upon the 
others. It must be quite evident to every one that all our 
plums have been introduced since the time of Cato. 59 

54 I. e. Asia Minor. 55 Hospitiura. 

5G See B. xiii. c. 17. The Balanites iEgyptiaea of Delille. 

57 It was this probably, and not the peach-tree, that would not bear 
fruit in the isle of Rhodes. 

58 Perseus. ... 

59 Fee remarks that the wild plum, the Prunus silvestris or insitit;a of 
Linnaeus, was to be found in Italy before the days of Cato. 




There are numerous varieties of pomes. Of the citron 60 we 
have already made mention when describing its tree; the 
Greeks gave it the name of " Medica," 61 from its native coun- 
try. The jujube 63 -tree and the tuber 63 are equally exotics ; 
indeed, they have, both of them, been introduced only of late 
years into Italy ; the latter from Africa, the former from Syria. 
Sextus Papinius, whom we have seen consul, 64 introduced them 
both in the latter years of the reign of Augustus, produced 
from slips which he had grown within his camp. The fruit 
of the jujube more nearly resembles a berry than an apple : 
the .tree sets off a terrace 65 remarkably well, and it is not un- 
common to see whole woods of it climbiug up to the very roofs 
of the houses. 

Of the tuber there are two varieties ; the white, and the one 
called "syricum," 66 from its colour. Those fruits, too, may 
be almost pronounced exotic which grow nowhere in Italy but 
in the territory of Verona, and are known as the wool-fruit. 67 
They are covered with a woolly down ; this is found, it is true, 
to a very considerable extent, on both the strutheum variety of 
quince and the peach, but still it has given its name to this 
particular fruit, which is recommended to us by no other 
remarkable quality. 



"Why should I hesitate to make some mention, too, of other 

6 « See B. xii. c. 7. 61 Of Media. 

63 Its fruit will ripen in France, as far north as Tours. It is the Zizy- 
phus vulgaris of Lamarck. It resembles a small plum, and is sometimes used 
as a sweetmeat. The confection sold as jujube paste" is not the dried jelly 
of this fruit, but merely gum arabic and sugar, coloured. 

63 A variety of the jujube, Fee is inclined to think. A nut-peach has 
also been susr^ested. 

64 a.u.c. 779. 65 Or perhaps embankment : " agger." 

66 A reddish colour. For the composition of this colour, see B. 
xxxv. c. 24. 

67 " Lanata ;" perhaps rather the "downy" fruit; a variety of quince, 
Fee tbinks. Pliny probably had never seen this fruit, in his opinion, 
and only speaks after Virgil, 'Eel. if. L 51. " Ipse ego cana legani tenera 
lanugine mala." 

298 plikt's nattjeal histoet. [Book XV. 

varieties by name, seeing that they have conferred everlasting 
remembrance on those who were the first to introduce them, 
as having rendered some service to their fellow-men ? Unless 
I am very much mistaken, an enumeration of them will tend 
to throw some light upon the ingenuity that is displayed in the 
art of grafting, and it will be the more easily understood that 
there is nothing so trifling in itself from which a certain 
amount of celebrity cannot be ensured. Hence it is that we 
have fruits which derive their names from Matius, 68 Cestius, 
Mallius, and Scandius. 69 Appius, too, a member of the 
Claudian family, grafted the quince on the Scandian fruit, in 
consequence of which the produce is known as the Appian. 
This fruit has the smell of the quince, and is of the same size 
as the Scandian apple, and of a ruddy colour^ Let no one, 
however, imagine that this name was merely given in a sp'irit 
of flattery to an illustrious family, for there is an apple known 
as the Sceptian, 70 which owes its name to the son of a freed- 
man, who was the first to introduce it : it is remarkable for 
the roundness of its shape. To those already mentioned, 
Cato 71 adds the Quirinian and the Scantian varieties, which 
last, he says, keep remarkably well in large vessels. 72 The 
latest kind of all, however, that has been introduced is the 
small apple known as the Petisian, 73 remarkable for its delight- 
ful flavour : the Amerinian 74 apple, too, and the little Greek 75 
have conferred renown on their respective countries. 

The remaining varieties have received their name from 
various circumstances — the apples known as the "gemella" 76 
are always found hanging in pairs upon one stalk, like twins, 

68 See B. xii. c. 6. The Matian and the Cestian apple are thought by 
Dalecbamps to have been the French " court-pendu," or " short stalk." 

69 The Scandian is thought to have been a winter pear. 

70 Adrian Junius takes this to be the " kers-appel " of the Flemish. 
« De Re Rust. cc. 7 and 143. '" 2 Dolia. 

73 Hardouin says that this is the " Pomme d'api " of the French ; it is 
the " Court-pendu" with Adrian Junius. 

74 The " Pomme de Saint Thomas," according to Adrian Junius : Dale- 
champs identifies it with the pomme de Granoi. See B. iii. c. 19, and cc. 17 
and 18 of the present Book. 

75 " Grsecula." So called, perhaps, from Tarentum, situated in Magna 

76 Twins. This variety is unknown. 


and never growing singly. That known as the "syricum" 77 
is so called from its colour, while the " melapium" 78 has its 
name from its strong resemblance to the pear. The " mus- 
teum" 79 was so called from the rapidity with which it ripens ; 
it is the melimelum of the present day, which derives its ap- 
pellation from its flavour, being like that of honey. _ The 
" orbiculatum," 80 again, is so called from its shape, which is 
exactly spherical— the circumstance of the Greeks having called 
it the "epiroticum" proves that it came originally from 
Epirus. The orthomastium 81 has that peculiar appellation 
from its resemblance to a teat ; and the " spadonium" 83 of the 
Belgse is so nicknamed from the total absence of pips. The 
melofolium 83 has one leaf, and occasionally two, shooting from 
the middle of the fruit. That known as the " pannuceum" M 
shrivels with the greatest rapidity ; while the " pulmoneum" 65 
has a lumpish, swollen appearance. 

Some apples are just the colour of blood, owing to an original 
graft of the mulberry ; but they are all of them red on the 
side which is turned towards the sun. There are some small 
wild 86 apples also, remarkable for their fine flavour and the 
peculiar pungency of their smell. Some, again, are so re- 
markably 87 sour, that they are held in disesteem ; indeed their 
acidity is so extreme, that it will even take the edge from off 
a knife. The worst apples of all are those which from their 
mealiness have received the name of "farinacea; 88 " they are 

77 Or " red" apple. The red calville of the French, according to Har- 
douin ; the Pomme suzine, according to Dalechamps. 

78 The Girandotte of the French ; the appel-heeren of the Dutch. 

79 The "early ripener." Dalechamps identifies it with the pomme 
Saint Jean, the apple of St. John. 

80 The Pomme rose, or rose apple, according to Dalechamps. 

81 Or " erect teat." The Pomme taponne of the French, according to 

82 Or eunuch. The Passe pomme, or Pomme grillotte of the French. 

83 Or " leaf apple." Fee remarks that this occasionally happens, but the 
apple does not form a distinct variety. 

84 The Pomme pannete, according to Dalechamps : the Pomme gelee 
of Provence. 

85 Or " lung" apple. The Pomme folane, according to Dalechamps. 

86 The Pirus malus- of Linnaeus, the wild apple, or estranguillon of the 

87 It is doubtful whether he does not allude here to a peculiar variety. 

88 Or "mealy" apples. 

300 pliny's natural history. [Book XV. 

the first, however, to ripen, and ought to be gathered as soon 
as possible. 


A similar degree of precocity has caused the appellation of 
" superbum" 89 to be given to one species of tho pear : it is a 
small fruit, but ripens with remarkable rapidity. All the 
world are extremely partial to the Crustumian 90 pear ; and next 
to it comes the Falernian, 91 so called from the drink 92 which 
it affords, so abundant is its juice. This juice is known by 
the name of "milk" in the variety which, of a black colour, 
is by some called the pear of Syria. 93 The denominations 
given to the others vary according to the respective localities of 
their growth. Among the pears, the names of which have been 
adopted in our city, the Decimian pear, and the Pseudo- 
Decimian — an offshoot from it — have conferred considerable 
renown upon the name of those who introduced them. The 
same is the case, too, with the variety known as the " Dola- 
bellian," 94 remarkable for the length of its stalk, the Pom- 
ponian, 95 surnamed the mammosum, 96 the Licerian, the 
Sevian, the Turranian, a variety of the Sevian, but distin- 
guished from it by the greater length of the stalk, the Pa- 
vonian, 97 a red pear, rather larger than the superbum, together 
with the Laterian 98 and the Anician, which come at the end 
of autumn, and are pleasant for the acidity of their flavour. 

99 Or " proud" pear. The Petite muscadelle, according to Dalechamps. 
Adrian Junius says that it is the water-peere of the Dutch. 

90 From Crustumiura in Italy ; the Poire perle, or pearl pear, according 
to Dalechamps : the Jacoh's peere of the Flemish. 

91 The Poire sucree, or " sugar-pear," according to Hardouin ; the Berga- 
motte, according to Dalechamps. 

92 " Potu." He would appear to allude to the manufacture of perry. 

93 The Syrian pear is commended by Martial ; it has not been identified, 

94 The. Poire musot, according to Dalechamps. Adrian Junius says that 
it is the Engelsche braet-peere of the Flemish. 

95 The Pirus Pompeiana of Linnaeus. Dalechamps identifies it with 
the Bon chretien, and Adrian Junius with the Taffel-peere of the Flemish. 

96 The "breast-formed." 

97 The Pirus Favonia of Linnaeus : the Grosse poire muscadelle of the 

98 The Poire prevost, according to Dalechamps. 

Chap. 16.] VAEIETIES OF THE PEAK. 301 

One variety is known as the " Tiberian," 99 from its having 
been a particular favourite with the Emperor Tiberius ; it is 
more coloured by the sun, and grows to a larger size, otherwise 
it would be identical with the Licerian variety. 

The following kinds receive their respective names from 
their native countries: the Amerinian, 1 the latest pear of all, 
the Picentine, the Numantine, the Alexandrian, the Numi- 
dian, the Greek, a variety of which is the Tarentine, and the 
Signine, 2 by some called " testaceum," from its colour, like 
earthenware ; a reason which has also given their respective 
names to the " onychine" 8 and the "purple" kinds. Then, 
again, we have the " myrapium," 4 the " laureum," and the 
" nardinum," 5 so called from the odour they emit; the " hor- 
dearium," 6 from the season at which it comes 7 in; and the 
" ampullaceum," 8 so called from its long narrow neck. Those, 
again, that are known as the " Coriolanian" 9 and the " Brut- 
tian," owe their names to the places of their origin ; added to 
which we have the cucurbitinum, 10 and the " acidulum," so 
named from the acidity of its juice. It is quite uncertain for 
what reason their respective names were given to the varieties 
known as the " barbaricum" and the " Venerium," u which last 
is known also as the " coloratum ;" 12 the royal pear 13 too; which 

99 The Poire fore, according to Dalechamps. 

1 The Saint Thomas's pear of the Flemish. 

2 The Poire chat of the French, according to Dalechamps ; the Biet-peere 
of the Flemish. 

3 " Like onyx." The Cuisse-madame, according to Dalechamps. 

4 The Calveau rosat, according to Dalechamps. Perhaps the Poire 
d'ambre, or amber pear, of the French. 

5 The Poire d' argent, or silver pear, according to Dalechamps. 

6 Or " barley pear." The Poire de Saint Jean, according to Dalechamps ; 
the musquette or muscadella, according to Adrian Junius. 

7 Barley-harvest. 

8 So called from its resemblance to the " ampulla," a big-bellied vessel 
with a small neck, identified with the Poire d'angoisse by Dalechamps. 

9 The Poire de jalousie, according to Dalechamps. 

10 Or gourd -pear. This is the "isbout" according to Adrian Junius, 
the Poire courge of Dalechamps, and the Poire de sarteau, or de campane 
of others. 

11 The Poire de Venus, according to Adrian Junius; the Poire acciole, 
according to Dalechamps. ia Coloured pear. 

13 " Regium." The Poire carmagnole, according to Dalechamps ; the Mis- 
peel-peere of the Flemish, according to Adrian Junius. 

302 plint's natural history. [Book XV. 

has a remarkably short stalk, and will stand on its end, as also 
the patrieiura, and the voconium, 14 a green oblong kind. In 
addition to these, Virgil 15 has made mention of a pear called the 
" volema," 16 a name which he has borrowed from Cato, 17 who 
makes mention also of kinds known as the " sementivum" 18 
and the " musteum." 19 



This branch of civilized life has long since been brought to 
the very highest pitch of perfection, for man has left nothing 
untried here. Hence it is that we find Virgil 20 speaking of 
grafting the nut-tree on the arbutus, the apple on the plane, 
and the cherry on the elm. Indeed, there is nothing further 
in this department that can possibly be devised, and it is a 
long time since any new variety of fruit has been discovered. 
Keligious scruples, too, will not allow of indiscriminate graft- 
ing ; thus, for instance, it is not permitted to graft upon the 
thorn, for it is not easy, by any mode of expiation, to avoid 
the disastrous effects of lightning; and we are told 21 that as 
many as are the kinds of trees that have been engrafted on the 
thorn, so many are the thunderbolts that will be hurled against 
that spot in a single flash. 

The form of the pear is turbinated ; the later kinds remain 
on the parent tree till winter, when they ripen with the frost ; 
such, for instance, as the Greek varietj^, the ampullaceum, and 
the laureum ; the same, too, with apples of the Amerinian 
and the Scandian kinds. Apples and pears are prepared for 

14 The Poire sarteau, according to Dalechamps. 

15 Georgics, ii. 87. 

16 "A handful" — probably the pound or pounder pear : the Bergamotte, 
according to Hardouin ; the Bon chretien of summer, according to Adrian 

17 De Re Rust. c. 7. 18 Or " Seedling." 

19 The " early ripener." Fee suggests that this may be a variety of the 
Bon chretien. 

20 Georgics, ii. 69. This statement of Virgil must be regarded as fabu- 
lous ; grafting being impracticable with trees not of the same family, and 
not always successful even then. 

21 This was probably some superstition taught by the augurs for the 
purpose of euvcloping their profession in additional mystery and awe. 


keeping just like grapes, and in as many different ways; but, 
with the exception of plums, they are the only fruit that are 
stored in casks. 22 Apples and pears have certain vinous 23 
properties, and like wine these drinks are forbidden to invalids by 
the physicians. These fruits are sometimes boiled up with wine 
and water, and so make a preserve u that is eaten with bread ; 
a preparation which is never made of any other fruit, with the 
exception of the quinces, known as the "cotoneum" and the 
" strutheum." 



For the better preserving of fruits it is universally recom- 
mended that the storeroom should be situate in a cool, dry 
spot, with a well-boarded floor, and windows looking towards 
the north ; which in fine weather ought to be kept open. Care 
should also be taken to keep out the south wind by window 
panes, 25 while at the same time it should be borne in mind that 
a north-east wind will shrivel fruit and make it unsightly. Ap- 
ples are gathered after the autumnal equinox ; but the gather- 
ing should never begin before the sixteenth day of the moon, 
or before the first hour of the day. Windfalls should always 
be kept separate, and there ought to be a layer of straw, or 
else mats or chaff, placed beneath. They should, also, be 
placed apart from each other, in rows, so that the air may cir- 
culate freely between them, and they may equally gain the 
benefit of it. The Amerinian apple is the best keeper, the 
melimelum the very worst of all. • 

(17.) Quinces ought to be stored in a place kept perfectly 
closed, so as to exclude all draughts ; or else they should be 
boiled in honey 26 or soaked in it. Pomegranates are made 

22 Cadis. 

23 He probably alludes here to cider and perry. See p. 300, and B. xxiii. 
c. 62.. 

24 "Pulraentarii vicera ;" properly " a substitute for pulmentarium," which 
was anything eaten with bread, such as meat, vegetables, &c. He alludes 
to marmalade. The French raisine is a somewhat similar preparation 
from pears and quinces boiled in new wine. 

25 " Specularibus." He alludes to windows of transparent stone, lapis 
specularis, or mica ; windows of glass being probably unknown in his time. 
The ordinary windows were merely openings closed with shutters. See B. 
xxxvi. c. 45. 

- G He must allude to a kind of quince marmalade. 

304 pltny's natural history. [Book XV. 

hard and firm by being first put in boiling 27 sea-water, and 
then left to dry for three days in the sun, care being taken that 
the dews of the night do not touch them ; after which they 
are hung up, and when wanted for use, washed with fresh 
water. M. Varro 28 recommends that they should be kept in 
large vessels filled with sand : if they are not ripe, he says 
that they should be put in pots with the bottom broken out, 
and then buried 29 in the earth, all access to the air being care- 
fully shut, and care being first taken to cover the stalk with 
pitch. By this mode of treatment, he assures us, they will 
attain a larger size than they would if left to ripen on the tree. 
As for the other kinds of pomes, he says that they should be 
wrapped up separately in fig-leaves, the windfalls being care- 
fully excluded, and then stored in baskets of osier, or else 
covered over with potters' earth. 

Pears are kept in earthen vessels pitched inside ; when 
filled, the vessels are reversed and then buried in pits. The 
Tarentine pear, Varro says, is gathered very late, while the 
Anician keeps very well in raisin wine. Sorb apples, too, are 
similarly kept in holes in the ground, the vessel being turned 
upside down, and a layer of plaster placed on the lid: it should be 
buried two feet deep, in a sunny spot; sorbs 30 are also hung, like 
grapes, in the inside of large vessels, together with the branches. 

Some of the more recent authors are found to pay a more 
scrupulous degree of attention to these various particulars, and 
recommend that the gathering of grapes or pomes, which are 
intended for keeping, should take place while the moon is on 
the wane, 31 after the third hour of the day, and while the 
weather is clear, or dry winds prevail. In a similar manner, 
the selection, they say, ought to be made from a dry spot, and 
the fruit should be plucked before it is fully ripe, a moment 
being chosen while the moon is below the horizon. Grapes, 
they say, should be selected that have a strong, hard mallet- 
stalk, and after the decayed berries have been carefully re- 
moved with a pair of scissors, they should be hung up inside of 

• 27 As Fee remarks, the fruit, if treated thus, would soon lose all the 
properties for which it is valued. 

28 De Re Rust. B. i. c. 59. 

29 A faulty proceeding, however dry it may he. 

30 This fruit, Fee remarks, keeps but indifferently, and soon hecomes 
soft, vinous, and acid. 

31 An absurd superstition. 


a large vessel which has just been pitched, care being taken to 
close all access to the south wind, by covering the lid with a 
coat of plaster. The same method, they say, should be adopted 
for keeping sorb apples and pears, the stalks being carefully 
covered with pitch ; care should be taken, too, that the ves- 
sels are kept at a distance from water. 

There are some persons who adopt the following method for 
preserving grapes. They take them off together with the 
branch, and place them, while still upon it, in a layer of 
plaster, 32 taking care to fasten either end of the branch in a 
bulb of squill. 33 Others, again, go so far as to place them 
within vessels containing wine, taking care, however, that the 
grapes, as they hang, do not touch it. Some persons put 
apples in plates of earth, and then leave them to float in wine, 
a method by which it is thought that a vinous flavour is im- 
parted to them : while some think it a better plan to preserve all 
these kinds of fruit in millet. Most people, however, content 
themselves with first digging a hole in the ground, a couple of 
feet in depth ; a layer of sand is then placed at the bottom, 
and the fruit is arranged upon it, and covered with an earthen 
lid, over which the earth is thrown. Some persons again even 
go so far as to give their grapes a coating of potters' chalk, and 
then hang them up when dried in the sun ; when required for 
use, the chalk is removed with water. 34 Apples are also pre- 
served in a similar manner ; but with them wine is employed 
for getting off the chalk. Indeed, we find a very similar plan 
pursued with apples of the finest quality ; they have a coating- 
laid upon them of either plaster or wax ; but they are apt, if 
not quite ripe when this was done, by the increase in their 
size to break their casing." 4 * When apples are thus prepared, 
they are always laid with the stalk downwards. 35 Some 
persons pluck the apple together with the branch, the ends of 
which they thrust into the pith of elder, 35 * and then bury it in 

32 A method not unlikely to spoil the grape, from the difficulty of re- 
moving the coat thus given to it. 

33 A very absurd notion, as Fee observes. To keep fruit in millet is 
also condemned. 

34 Which, of course, must deteriorate the flavour of the grape. 
3i * It is doubtful if they will increase in size, when once plucked. 

35 The modern authorities recommend the precisely opposite plan. 
354 As absurd as the use of the bulb of squill. 


306 pliny's natural history. [Book XV. 

the way already pointed out. 36 There are some who assign to 
each apple or pear its separate vessel of clay, and after care- 
fully pitching the cover, enclose it again in a larger vessel : 
occasionally, too, the fruit is iDlaced on a layer of flocks of 
wool, or else in baskets, 37 with a lining of chaff and clay. 
Other persons follow a similar plan, but use earthen plates for 
the purpose ; while others, again, employ the same method, 
but dig a hole in the earth, and after placing a layer of sand, 
lay the fruit on top of it, and then cover the whole with dry 
earth. Persons, too, are sometimes known to give quinces a 
coating of Pontic- 8 wax, and then plunge them in honey. 

Columella 39 informs us, that fruit is kept by being carefully 
put in earthen vessels, which then receive a coating of pitch, and 
are placed in wells or cisterns to sink to the bottom. The people 
of maritime Liguria, in the vicinity of the Alps, first dry their 
grapes in the sun, 40 and wrap them up in bundles of rushes, 
which are then covered with plaster. The Greeks follow a 
similar plan, but substitute for rushes the leaves of the plane- 
tree, or of the vine itself, or else of the fig, which they dry 
for a single day in the shade, and then place in a cask in 
alternate layers with husks 41 of grapes. It is by this method 
that they preserve the grapes of Cos and Eerytus, which are 
inferior to none in sweetness. Some persons, when thus pre- 
paring them, plunge the grapes into lie-ashes the moment they 
take them from the vine, and then dry them in the sun ; they 
then steep them in warm water, after which they put them to 
dry again in the sun : and last of all, as already mentioned, 
wrap them up in bundles formed of layers of leaves and grape 
husks. There are some who prefer keeping their grapes in 
sawdust, 43 or else in shavings of the fir-tree, poplar, and ash : 
while others think it the best plan to hang them up in the 
granary, at a careful distance from the apples, directly after the 
gathering, being under the impression that the very best cover- 
ing for them as they hang is the dust 43 that naturally arises 

36 In a pit two feet deep, &c. See above. 37 Capsae, 

38 g ee ij, xxi. c . 49. 39 Be Ee Eust. B. xii. c. 43. 

40 These must make raisins of the sun. 

41 These must have been perfectly dry, or else they would tend to rot 
the grapes or raisins. 

42 Columella, for instance, B. xii. c. 43. 

13 The dust is in reality very liable to spoil the fruit, from the tenacity 

Chap. 19.] VARIETIES OF THE FIG. 307 

from the floor. Grapes are effectually protected against the 
attacks of wasps by "being sprinkled with oil 43 * spirted .from the 
mouth. Of palm-dates we have already spoken. 44 


Of ail the remaining fruits that are included under the 
name of " pomes," the fig 45 is the largest : some, indeed, equal 
the pear, even, in size. We have already mentioned, while 
treating of the exotic fruits, the miraculous productions of 
Egypt and Cyprus 46 in the way of figs. The fig of Mount 
Ida 47 is red, and the size of an olive, rounder however, and 
like a medlar in flavour ; they give it the name of Alex- 
andrian in those parts. The stem is a cubit in thickness ; it is 
branchy, has a tough, pliant wood, is entirely destitute of all 
milky juice, 48 and has a green bark, and leaves like those of the 
linden tree, but soft to the touch. Onesicritus states that in 
Hyrcania the figs are much sweeter than with us, and that the 
trees are more prolific, seeing that a single tree will bear as 
much as two hundred and seventy modii 49 of fruit. The fig 
has been introduced into Italy from other countries, Chalcis 
and Chios, for instance, the varieties being very numerous : 
there are those from Lydia also, which are of a purple colour, 
and the kind known as the " mamillana," 50 which is very 
similar to the Lydian. The callistruthise are very little supe- 
rior to the last in flavour ; they are the coldest by nature of 
all the figs. As to the African fig, by many people preferred 
to any other, it has been made the subject of very consider- 
able discussion, as it is a kind that has been introduced very 
recently into Africa, though it bears the name of that country. 

with which it adheres. In all these methods, little attention would seem 
to be paid to the retention of the flavour of the fruits. 

43 * A detestable practice, Fee says, as the oil makes an indelible mark 
on the grape, and gives it an abominable flavour. It Is the best method 
to put the fruit in bags of paper or hair. 

44 See B. xiii. c. 19. 

45 There are about forty varieties now known. 

40 B. xiii. c. 14, 15. These are the Ficus sycomorus of Linnasus. 

47 In Troas ; called the Alexandrian fig, from the city of Alexandria 
there. Fee doubts if this was really a fig, and suggests that it might be 
the fruit of a variety of Diospyros. 

48 No fig-tree now known is destitute of this. 

49 Fee treats this as an exaggeration. 

50 From " mamilla," a teat. 

x 2 

308 pliny's natural histoey. [Cook XV. 

As to the fig of Alexandria, 51 it is a black variety, with the 
cleft inclining to white ; it has had the name given to it of 
the " delicate" 53 fig : the Rhodian fig, too, and the Tiburtine, 53 
one of the early kinds, are black. Some of them, again, bear 
the name of the persons who were the first to introduce them, 
such, for instance, as the Livian 54 and the Pompeian 55 figs : this 
last variety is the best for drying in the sun and keeping for 
use, from year to year ; the same is the case, too, with the 
marisca, 56 and the kind which has a leaf spotted all over like 
the reed. 57 There is also the Herculanean fig, the albicerata, 68 
and the white aratia, a very large variety, with an extremely 
diminutive stalk. 

The earliest of them all is the porphyrias, 59 which has a 
stalk of remarkable length : it is closely followed by the popu- 
laris, 60 one of the very smallest of the figs, and so called from 
the low esteem in which it is held : on the other hand, the 
chelidonia 61 is a kind that ripens the last of all, and to- 
wards the beginning of winter. In addition to these, there are 
figs that are at the same time both late and early, as they bear 
two crops in the year, one white and the other black, 62 ripen- 
ing at harvest-time and vintage respectively. There is another 
late fig also, that has received its name from the singular 
hardness of its skin ; one of the Chalcidian varieties bears as 
many as three times in the year. It is at Tarentum only that 
the remarkably sweet fig is grown which is known by the 
name of " ona." 

Speaking of figs, Cato has the following remarks : " Plant 
the fig called the ' marisca' on a chalky or open site, but for 
the African variety, the Herculanean, the Saguntine, 63 the 

54 In Egypt. The Figue servantine, or cordeliere. 

52 "Delicata." The " bon-bouche." 

53 Fee suggests that this may have been the small early fig. 

54 From Livia, the wife of Augustus. 

55 From. Pompeius Magnus. 56 Apparently meaning the " marsh" fig. 
57 The Laconian reed, Theophrastus says, B. iv. c. 12. 

5S The " white-wax" fig. 

59 Fee queries whether it may not be the Grosse bourjasotte. 

60 Or " people's" fig. The small early white fig. 

61 Or "swallow"-fig. 

62 Or it may mean " white and black," that being the colour of the 
fig. Such a variety is still known. 

63 A Spanish variety; those of the south of Spain are very highly 


winter fig and the black Telanian 64 with a long stalk, you 
must select a richer soil, or else a ground well manured." 
Since his day there have so many names and kinds come up, 
that even on taking this subject into consideration, it must be 
apparent to every one how great are the changes which have 
taken place in civilized life. 

There are winter figs, too, in some of the provinces, the 
Moesian, for instance ; but they are made so by artificial means, 
such not being in reality their nature. Being a small 
variety of the fig-tree, they cover it up with manure at the end 
of autumn, by which means the fruit on it is overtaken by 
winter while still in a green state : then when the weather 
becomes milder the fruit is uncovered along with the tree, and 
so restored to light. Just as though it had come into birth 
afresh, the fruit imbibes the heat of the new sun with the 
greatest avidity — a different sun, in fact, to that 65 which ori- 
ginally gave it life — and so ripens along with the blossom of 
the coming crop ; thus attaining maturity in a year not its 
own, and this in a country, 66 too, where the greatest cold 


67 The mention by Cato of the variety which bears the name 
of the African fig, strongly recalls to my mind a remarkable 
fact connected with it and the country from which it takes 
its name. 

Burning with a mortal hatred to Carthage, anxious, too, for the 
safety of his posterity, and exclaiming at every sitting of the 
senate that Carthage must be destroyed, Cato one day brought 
with him into the Senate-house a ripe fig, the produce of that 
country. Exhibiting it to the assembled senators, " I ask you," 
said he, " when, do you suppose, this fruit was^plucked from the 
tree ?" All being of opinion that it had been but lately gathered, 
— " Know then," was his reply, " that this fig was plucked at 
Carthage but the day before yesterday 08 — so near is the enemy 

54 The modern " black" tig. 

65 The sun of the former year. 

66 In Moesia — the present Servia and Bulgaria. 

67 Another war is said to have originated in this fruit. Xerxes was 
tempted by the fine figs of Athens to undertake the invasion of Greece. _ 

« " Tertium ante diem." In dating from an event, the Romans in- 


to our walls." It was immediately after this occurrence that 
the third Punic war commenced, in which Carthage was 
destroyed; though Cato had breathed his last, the year after this 
event. In this trait which are we the most to admire ? was it 
ingenuity 69 and foresight on his part, or was it an accident that 
was thus aptly turned to advantage ? which, too, is the most 
surprising, the extraordinary quickness of the passage which 
must have been made, or the bold daring of the man ? The 
thing, however, that is the most astonishing of all; — indeed, I 
can conceive nothing more truly marvellous — is the fact that a 
city thus mighty, the rival of Rome for the sovereignty of the 
world during a period of one hundred and twenty years, owed 
its fall at last to an illustration drawn from a single fig ! 

Thus did this fig effect that which neither Trebia nor Thrasi- 
menus, not Cannae itself, graced with the entombment of the 
Eoman renown, not the Punic camp entrenched within three 
miles of the city, not even the disgrace of seeing Hannibal 
riding up to the Colline Gate, could suggest the means of 
accomplishing. It was left for a fig, in the hand of Cato, to 
show how near was Carthage to the gates of Rome ! 

In the Forum even, and in the very midst of the Comitium 70 
of Rome, a fig-tree is carefully cultivated, in memory of the 
consecration which took place on the occasion of a thunder- 
bolt 71 which once fell on that spot ; and still more, as a me- 
morial of the fig-tree which in former days overshadowed 
Romulus and Remus, the founders of our empire, in the Lu- 
percal Cave. This tree received the name of " rurninalis," 
from the circumstance that under it the wolf was found giving 
the breast — rumis it was called in those days — to the two 
infants. A group in bronze was afterwards erected to con- 
secrate the remembrance of this miraculous event, as, through 
the agency of Attus Navius the augur, the tree itself had 

eluded both days in the computation; the one they dated from, and the 
day of, the event. 

99 In sending for the fig, and thinking of this method of speaking to 
the feelings of his fellow-countrymen. 

70 A place hi the Forum, where public meetings were held, and certain 
offences tried. 

71 He alludes to the Puteal, or enclosed space in the Forum, consecrated 
by Scribonius Libo, in consequence of the spot having been struck by 

Chap. 21.] CAPEIFICATIOST. 311 

passed spontaneously from its original locality 72 to the Comi- 
tium in the Forum. And not without some direful presage is 
it that that tree has withered away, though, thanks to the 
care of the priesthood, it has been since replaced. 73 

There was another fig-tree also, before the temple of Sa- 
turn, 74 which was removed on the occasion of a sacrifice made 
by the Yestal Virgins, it being found that its roots were gra- 
dually undermining the statue of the god Silvanus. Another 
one, accidentally planted there, flourished in the middle of the 
Forum, 75 upon the very spot, too, in. which, when from a dire- 
ful presage it had been foreboded that the growing empire 
was about to sink to its very foundations, Curtius, at the price 
of an inestimable treasure — in other words, by the sacrifice of 
such unbounded virtue and piety — redeemed his country by a 
glorious death. By a like accident, too, a vine and an olive- 
tree have sprung up in the same spot, 76 which have ever since 
been carefully tended by the populace for the agreeable shade 
which they afford. The altar that once stood there was after- 
wards removed by order of the deified Julius Caesar, upon the 
occasion of the last spectacle of gladiatorial combats 77 which 
he gave in the Forum. 


The fig, the only one among all the pomes, hastens to maturity 
by the aid of a remarkable provision of Nature. (19.) The 
wild-fig, 78 known by the name of " caprificus," never ripens 
itself, though it is able to impart to the others the principle 
of which it is thus destitute ; for we occasionally find Nature 
making a transfer of what are primary causes, and being gene- 
rated from decay. To effect this purpose the wild fig-tree 

72 On the banks of the Tiber, below the Palatine Mount. The whole 
of this passage is in a most corrupt siate, and it is difficult to extract a 
meaning from it. 

73 By slips from the old tree, as Tacitus seems to say—" in novos foetus 

74 At the foot of the Capitoline Hill. 

75 Probably near where the Curtius Lacus had stood in the early days of 
Pome. The story of Metius Curtius, who leaped into the yawning gulph 
in the Forum, in order to save his country, is known to every classical 

76 The Forum. 77 See B. xix. c. 6. 

76 The Ficus Carica of Linnaeus. It does bear fruit, though small, and 
disagreeable to the taste. 

3]2 plint's natural history. [Book XV. 

produces a kind of gnat. 79 These insects, deprived of all sus- 
tenance from their parent tree, at the moment that it is has- 
tening to rottenness and decay, wing their flight to others of 
kindred though cultivated kind. There feeding with avidity 
upon the fig, they penetrate it in numerous places, and by 
thus making their way to the inside, open the pores of the 
fruit. 80 The moment they effect their entrance, the heat of 
the sun finds admission too, and through the inlets thus made 
the fecundating air is introduced. These insects speedily 
consume the milky juice that constitutes the chief support 
of the fruit in its infant 81 state, a result which would other- 
wise be spontaneously effected by absorption : and hence it is 
that in the plantations of figs a wild fig is usually aUowed to 
grow, being placed to the windward of the other trees^ in 
order that the breezes may bear from it upon them. Improving 
upon this discovery, branches of the wild fig are sometimes 
brought from a distance, and bundles tied together are placed 
upon the cultivated tree. This method, however, is not neces- 
sary when the trees are growing on a thin soil, or on a site 
exposed to the north-east wind ; for in these cases the figs will 
dry spontaneously, and the clefts which are made in the fruit 
effect the same ripening process which in other instances _ is 
brought about by the agency of these insects. Nor is it requisite 
to adopt this plan on spots which are liable to dust, such, for 
instance, as is generally the case with fig-trees planted by the 
side of much-frequented roads : the dust having the property 
of drying up 82 the juices of the fig, and so absorbing the 
milky humours. There is this superiority, however, in an ad- 
vantageous site over the methods of ripening by the agency of 
dust or by caprification, that the fruit is not so apt to fall ; for 
the secretion of the juices being thus prevented, the fig is not 
so heavy as it would otherwise be, and the branches are less 

brittle. . . 

All figs are soft to the touch, and when ripe contain grains > 

■3 This insect is one of the Hymenoptera ; the Cynips Psenes of Linnteus 
and Fabricius. There is another insect of the same genus, hut not so 

well known. . ,, , , , 

so Fe"e observes that the caprification accelerates the ripeness of the 

fruit, but at the expense of the flavour. For the same purpose the upper 

part 'of the fig is often pricked with a pointed quill. 

si « Infant'iam pomi"— literally, "the infancy of the fruit. 

82 Fee denies the truth of this assertion. » Frumenta. 

Chap. 21.] CAPMFICATIOS". 313 

in the interior. The juice, when the fruit is ripening, has the 
taste of milk, and when dead ripe, that of honey. If left on 
the tree they will grow old ; and when in that state, they 
distil a liquid that flows in tears w like gum. Those that are 
more highly esteemed are kept for drying, and the most ap- 
proved kinds are put away for keeping in baskets. 85 The figs 
of the island of Ebusus 86 are the best as well as the largest, 
and next to them are those of Marrueinum. 87 Where figs are 
in great abundance, as in Asia, for instance, huge jars 8 ' 
are filled with them, and at Euspina, a city of Africa, we find 
casks 89 used for a similar purpose : here, in a dry state, they 
are extensively used instead of bread, 90 and indeed as a general 
article of provision. 91 Cato, 92 when laying down certain defi- 
nite regulations for the support of labourers employed in agri- 
culture, recommends that their supply of food should be 
lessened just at the time 93 when the fig is ripening : it has 
been a plan adopted in more recent times, to find a substitute 
for salt with cheese, by eating fresh figs. To this class of 
fruit belong, as we have already mentioned, 94 the cottana and 
the carica, together with the cavnea, 95 which was productive of 
so bad an omen to M. Crassus at the moment when he was 
embarking 96 for his expedition against the Parthians, a dealer 
happening to be crying them just at that very moment. L. 
Vitellius, who was more recently appointed to the censor- 
ship, 97 introduced all these varieties from Syria at his country- 
seat at Alba, 93 having acted as legatus in that province in the 
latter years of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. 

84 A mixture of the sugar of the fruit with the milky juice of the tree, 
which is a species of caoutchouc. 85 Capsis. 

85 See B. iii. c. 11. The Balearic Isles still produce great quantities of 
excellent dried figs. 87 See B. iii. c. 17. 

88 Orcse. 89 Cadi. 

90 Ground, perhaps, into a kind of flour. 

91 Opsonii vicem. " Opsonium " was anything eaten with bread, such as 
vegetables, meat, and fish, for instance. 

92 De Re Rust. c. 56. 

93 Because they would he sure, under any circumstances, to eat plenty of 
them. 94 g ee b. xiii. c. 10. 

95 These were so called from Caunus, a city of Caria, famous for its dried 
figs. Pronounced " Cavncas," it would sound to the superstitious, " Cave 
ne eas," " Take care that you go not." 

96 At Brundisium. 97 a.u.c. 801. 
98 Alba Longa. See B. iii. c. 9. 



The medlar and the sorb " ought in propriety to be ranked 
under the head of the apple and the pear. Of the medlar 1 
there are three varieties, the anthedon, 2 the setania, 3 and a 
third of inferior quality., which bears a stronger resemblance 
to the anthedon, and is known as the Gallic 4 kind. The seta- 
nia is the largest fruit, and the palest in colour ; the woody seed 
in the inside of it is softer, too, than in the others, which are of 
smaller size than the setania, but superior to it in the fragrance 
of their smell, and in being better keepers. The tree itself is 
one of very ample 5 dimensions : the leaves turn red before they 
fall : the roots are numerous, and penetrate remarkably deep, 
which renders it almost impossible to grub it up. This tree 6 
did not exist in Italy in Cato's time. 


There are four varieties of the sorb : there being some that 
have all the roundness " of the apple, while others are conical 
like the pear, 8 and a third sort are of an oval 9 shape, like 
some of the apples : these last, however, are apt to be remark- 
ably acid. The round kind is the best for fragrance and 
sweetness, the others having a vinous flavour; the finest, 
however, are those which have the stalk surrounded with 
tender leaves. A fourth kind is known by the name of " tor- 
minalis :" 10 it is only employed, however, for remedial pur- 

09 The sorb belongs to the genus pirus of the naturalists. 
1 The Mespilus germanica of the botanists. 

3 The azarolier, a tree of the south of Europe, the Mespilus apii folio 
laciniato of C. Bauhin. 

3 The Mespilus Italica folio laurino serrato of C. Bauhin, the Mespilus 
cotoneaster of J. Bauhin. 

4 Its identity is matter of uncertainty ; but it has been thought to be the 
Crataegus oxyacantha of modern botanists. _ 

5 By " amplissimus," he must mean that it spreads out very much in pro- 
portion to its height, as it is merely a shrub. 

6 Fee thinks it a tree indigenous to the north. 

7 The ordinary sorb-apple of horticulturists. 
6 The sorb-pear. 

9 Varying but little, probably, from the common sorb, the Sorbus domes- 
tica of Linnaeus. 

10 Fee is inclined to think that it is the Sorbus terminalis of Lamarck. 
Anguillara thinks that it is the Crataegus of Theophrastus, considered by 

Chap. '24.] VAEIETIES OF THE NUT. 315 

poses. The tree is a good bearer, but does not resemble the 
other kinds, the leaf being nearly that of the plane-tree ; the 
fruit, too, is particularly small. Cato u speaks of sorbs being 
preserved in boiled wine. 


The walnut, 12 which would almost claim precedence of the 
sorb in size, yields the palm to it in reference to the esteem 13 
in which they are respectively held ; and this, although it is 
so favourite an accompaniment of the Fescennine u songs at 
nuptials. This nut, taken as a whole, is very considerably 
smaller than the pine nut, but the kernel is larger in propor- 
tion. Nature, too, has conferred upon it a peculiar honour, in 
protecting it with a two-fold covering, the first of which forms 
a hollowed cushion for it to rest upon, and the second is a 
woody shell. It is for this reason that this fruit has been 
looked upon as a symbol consecrated to marriage, 15 its off- 
spring being thus protected in such manifold ways : an expla- 
nation which bears a much greater air of probability than that 
which would derive it from the rattling which it makes when 
it bounds from the floor. 16 The Greek names that have been 
given to this fruit fully prove that it, like many others, has 
been originally introduced from Persis ; the best kinds being 
known in that language by the names of " Persicum," 17 and 
" basilicon;" 18 these, in fact, being the names by which they 

Sprengel to be identical with the Crataegus azarolus of Linnaeus. In 
ripening, the fruit of the sorb undergoes a sort of vinous fermentation : 
hence a kind of cider made of it. 

11 De Re Rust. cc. 7 and 145. 12 The Juglans regia of Linnaeus. 

13 Tastes have probably altered since this was written. 

14 These were rude and sometimes obscene gongs sung at festivals, and 
more particularly marriages. While these songs were being sung at the 
door of the nuptial chamber, it was the custom for the husband to scramble 
walnuts among the young people assembled there. The walnut is the nut 
mentioned in Solomon's Song, vi. 11. 

15 Or, more probably, from the union of the two portions of the inner shell. 
_ i6 " Tripudium sonivium :" implying that it was considered sacred to mar- 
riage, from the use made of it by the friends of the bridegroom when 
thrown violently against the nuptial chamber, with the view of drowning 
the cries of the bride. A very absurd notion, to all appearance. 

V The " Persian " nut. 

18 The " king's " nut. The walnut-tree still abounds in Persia, and 
is found wild on the slopes of the Himalaya. 

316 plot's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XV. 

were first known to us. It is generally agreed, too, that one 
peculiar variety has derived its name of " caryon," 19 from the 
headache which it is apt to produce by the pungency 20 of 
its smell. 

The green shell of the walnut is used for dyeing 21 wool, and 
the nuts, while still small and just developing themselves, are 
employed for giving a red hue to the hair : 22 a discovery owing 
to the stains which they leave upon the hands. "When old, 
the nut becomes more oleaginous. The only difference in the 
several varieties consists in the relative hardness or brittleness 
of the shell, it being thin or thick, full of compartments or 
smooth and uniform. This is the only fruit that Nature has 
enclosed in a covering formed of pieces soldered together ; the 
shell, in fact, forming a couple of boats, while the kernel is 
divided into four separate compartments 23 by the intervention 
of a ligneous membrane. 

In all the other kinds, the fruit and the shell respectively 
are of one solid piece, as we find the case with the hazel-nut, 24 
and another variety of the nut formerly known as "Abel- 
lina," 25 from the name 26 of the district in which it was first 
produced : it was first introduced into Asia and Greece from 
Pontus, whence the name that is sometimes given to it— the 
" Pontic nut." This nut, too, is protected by a soft beard, 27 
but both the shell and the kernel are round, and formed of a 
single piece: these nuts are sometimes roasted. 28 In the 
middle of the kernel we find a germen or navel. 

A third class of nuts is the almond, 29 which has an outer 

19 Implying that it comes from the Greek fcap/j, " the head." Some ety- 
mologists think that it is from the Celto-Scythian cariv, a boat ; such being 
the shape of the two parts of the inner shell. 

20 It is still a common notion, Fee says, that it is highly injurious to 
sleep beneath a walnut-tree. 

21 It is still used for this purpose. 

22 Red hair was admired by the Romans. The Roman females used 
this juice also for dyeing their hair when grey. 

25 They are not entirely separate. 

24 The Corylus avellana maxima of "Willdenow. 

25 The filbert, the Corylus tubulosa of Willdenow. 

26 Abellinum, in Campania. See B. hi. c. 9. 

27 The down on the nut is more apparent when it is young ; but it is 
easily rubbed off. The outer coat is probably meant. 

28 Hazel nuts are sometimes roasted in some parts of Europe^ but not 

with us. 

- a The Amygdalus communis of Linnaeus. 

Chap. 24.] VARIETIES OF THE NET. 317 

covering, similar to that of the walnut, but thinner, with a 
second coat in the shape of a shell. The kernel, however, is 
unlike that of the walnut, in respect of its broad, flat shape, 
its firmness, and the superior tastiness of its flavour. It is a 
matter of doubt whether this tree was in existence in Italy in 
the time of Cato ; we find him speaking of Greek nuts, 30 but 
there are some persons who think that these belong to the 
walnut class. He makes mention, also, of the hazel-nut, the 
calva, 81 and the Praenestine 32 nut, which last he praises beyond 
all others, and says 33 that, put in pots, they may be kept fresh 
and green by burying them in the earth. 

At the present day, the almonds of Thasos and those of 
Alba are held in the highest esteem, as also two kinds that 
are grown atTarentum, one with a thin, 34 brittle shell, and the 
other with a harder 35 one : these last are remarkably large, 
and of an oblong shape. There is the almond known as 
the " mollusca," 36 also, which breaks the shell of itself. There 
are some who would concede a highly honourable interpreta- 
tion to the name given to the walnut, and say that " juglans" 
means the " glans," or " acorn of Jove." It is only very lately 
that I heard a man of consular rank declare, that he then 
had in his possession walnut-trees that bore two 37 crops in 
the year. 

Of the pistachio, which belongs also to the nut class, we 
have already spoken 38 in its appropriate place : 7 itellius intro- 
duced this tree into Italy at the same time as the others that 

30 De Re Rust. c. 8. Some think that this was the hitter almond ; and 
the word " acriore," used by Pliny, would almost seem to imply that such 
is the case. 

31 Apparently the "smooth" or "bald" nut. May not a variety some- 
thing like the hickory nut of America be meant ? 

3 2 Festus says that a kind of nut was so called, because the Praenestines, 
when besieged by Hannibal at Casilinum, subsisted upon them. See 
Livy, B. xxiii. Fee considers it only another name for the common hazel 
nut. ' 33 De Re Rust. c. 145. 

34 The soft-shelled almond, or princess almond of the French: the 
Amvgdalus communis fragilis of naturalists. 

35 This last variety does not seem to have been identified : the hard- 
shell almonds do not appear to be larger than the others. 

36 Or "soft" almond,- a variety only of the Amygdalus fragilis. _ 

37 There is little doubt that Fee is right in his assertion, that this great 
personage imposed on our author ; as no trees of this family are known to 
bear two crops. 38 B. xiii. c. 10. 


we mentioned ; 39 and Flaccus Pompeius, a Roman of Eques- 
trian rank, who served with, him, introduced it at the same 
period into Spain. 


We give the name of nut, too, to the chesnut, 40 although it 
would seem more properly to belong to the acorn tribe. The 
chesnut has its armour of defence in a shell bristling with 
prickles like the hedge-hog, an envelope which in the acorn 
is only partially developed. It is really surprising, however, 
that Nature should have taken such pains thus to conceal an 
object of so little value. We sometimes find as many as 
three nuts beneath a single outer shell. The skin 41 of the nut 
is limp and flexible : there is a membrane, too, which lies 
next to the body of the fruit, and which, both in this and in 
the walnut, spoils the flavour if not taken off. Chesnuts^ are 
the most pleasant eating when roasted : 42 they are sometimes 
ground also, and are eaten by women when fasting for reli- 
gious scruples, 43 as bearing some resemblance to bread. It is 
from Sardes 44 that the chesnut was first introduced, and hence 
it is that the Greeks have given it the name of the " Sardian 
acorn;" for the name " Dios balanon" 45 was given at a later 
period, after it had been considerably improved by cultivation. 

At the present day there are numerous varieties of the 
chesnut. Those of Tarentum are a light food, and by no 
means difficult of digestion ; they are of a flat shape. _ There 
is a rounder variety, known as the "balanitis;" 46 it is very 
easily peeled, and springs clean out of the shell, so to say, of 

39 In c. xxi. of this Book. 

40 The tree is the Fagus castanea of Linnaeus. 41 Cortex. 

42 The common mode of eating it at the present day. The Italians also 
take off the skin and dry the nut ; thus keeping it from year to year. 
When required for eating, it is softened hy the steam of hoiling water. 

43 Not improbably said in allusion to the fasts introduced hy the Jews, 
who had become very numerous in Rome. 

41 It was said to have come from Castana, a city of Pontus, whence its 
name " Castanea." It is probably indigenous to Europe. 

45 The Greek for " Jove's acorn." 

46 Or "acorn chesnut." The same variety, Fee says, that is found in 
the vicinity of Perigueux, small, nearly round, and without any particular 

Chap. 27.] THE FLESHY FRUITS. 319 

its own accord. The Salarian 4f chesnut has a smooth outer 
shell, while that of Tarentum is not so easily handled. 48 The 
Corellian is more highly esteemed, as is the Etereian, which is 
an offshoot from it produced by a method upon which we shall 
have to enlarge when we come to speak of grafting. 49 This 
last has a red skin, 50 which causes it to be preferred to the 
three-cornered chesnut and our black common sorts, which 
are known as " coctivae." 51 Tarentum and Neapolis in Cam- 
pania are the most esteemed localities for the chesnut : other 
kinds, again, are grown to feed pigs upon, 52 the skin of which 
is rough and folded inwards, so as to penetrate to the heart of 
the kernel. 

CHAP. 26. (24.) THE CAROB. 

The carob, 53 a fruit of remarkable sweetness, does not ap- 
pear to be so very dissimilar to the chesnut, except that the 
skin 54 is eaten as well as the inside. It is just the length of 
a finger, and about the thickness of the thumb, being some- 
times of a curved shape, like a sickle. The acorn cannot be 
reckoned in the number of the fruits ; we shall, therefore, 
speak of it along with the trees of that class. 55 


The other fruits belong to the fleshy kind, and differ both 
in the shape and the flesh. The flesh of the various ber- 
ries, 56 of the mulberry, and of the arbute, are quite dif- 
ferent from one another — and then what a difference, too, 
between the grape, which is only skin and juice, 57 the myxa 
plum, and the flesh of some berries, 58 such as the olive, for 

47 The Ganebelone chesnut of Perigueux, Fee says, answers to this 

48 On account of the prickles on the outer shell. 49 B. xvii. c. 26. 
50 Fee says that the royal white chesnut of the vicinity of Perigueux 

answers to this. si << Boiling" chesnuts. 

52 He alludes to wild or horse chesnuts, probably. 

63 See B. xiii. c. 16. 

5i This skin is not eatable. It is fibrous and astringent. 

65 In B. xvi. c. 6. 

56 " Acinis." The grape, ivy-berry, elder-berry, and others. 

57 " Inter cutem succumque." 

5S Baccis. Some confusion is created by the non-existence of English 

320 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XV. 

instance! In the flesh of the mulberry there is a juice of a 
vinous flavour, and the fruit assumes three different colours, 
being at first white, then red, and ripe when black. The 
mulberry blossoms one of the very last, 59 and yet is among 
the first to ripen : the juice of the fruit, when ripe, will stain 
the hands, but that of the unripe fruit will remove the marks. 
It is in this tree that human ingenuity has effected the least 
improvement 60 of all ; there are no varieties here, no modifica- 
tions effected by grafting, nor, in fact, any other improvement 
except that the size of the fruit, by careful management, has 
been increased. At Koine, there is a distinction made between 
the mulberries of Ostia and those of Tusculum. A variety 
grows also on brambles, but the flesh of the fruit is of a very 
different nature. 61 


The flesh of the ground-strawberry 62 is very different to 
that of the arbute-tree, 63 which is of a kindred kind : indeed, 
this is the only instance in which we find a similar fruit grow- 
ing upon a tree and on the ground. The tree is tufted and 
bushy ; the fruit takes a year to ripen, the blossoms of the 
young fruit flowering while that of the preceding year is 
arriving at maturity. Whether it is the male tree or the 
female that is unproductive, authors are not generally agreed. 

This is a fruit held in no esteem, in proof of which it has 

words to denote the difference between " acinus" and " bacca." The lat- 
ter is properly the " berry ;" the grape being the type of the " acinus." 

59 See B. xvi. c. 41. The mulberry is the Moras nigra of modern 
naturalists. It is generally thought that this was the only variety known 
to the ancients ; but Fee queries, from the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, 
Avhich represents the mulberry as changing from white to blood colour, 
that the white mulberry was not unknown to them ; but through some 
cause, now unknown, was gradually lost sight of. 

60 This is still the case with the mulberry. 

61 See B. xvi. c. 71, and B. xxiv. c. 73. He alludes to the blackberry. 

62 The common strawberry, the Fragaria vesca of Linnaeus. See B. xxi. 
c. 50. A native of the Alps and the forests of Gaul, it was unknown to 
the Greeks. 

63 The Arbutus unedo of Linnseus. It is one of the ericaceous trees, 
and its fruit bears a considerable resemblance to the strawberry — otherwise 
there is not the slightest affinity between them. The taste of the arbute 
is poor indeed, compared to that of the strawberry. 


gained its name of " unedo," 64 people being generally con- 
tent with eating but one. The Greeks, however, have found 
for it two names — -'"coniaron" and "memecylon," from which 
it would appear 65 that there are two varieties. It has also 
with us another name besides that of " unedo," being known 
also as the " arbutus." Juba states that in Arabia this tree 
attains the height of fifty cubits. 


There is a great difference also among the various acinus 
fruits. First of all, among the grapes, we find considerable 
difference in respect to their firmness, the thinness or thick- 
ness of the skin, and the stone inside the fruit, which in some 
varieties is remarkably small, and in others even double in 
number : these last producing but very little juice. Very dif- 
ferent, again, are the berries of the ivy 67 and the elder j 68 as 
also those in the pomegranate, 69 these being the only ones that 
are of an angular shape. These last, also, have not a mem- 
brane for each individual grain, but one to cover them all in 
common, and of a pale colour. All these fruits consist, too, 
of juice and flesh, and those more particularly which have but 
small seeds inside. 

There are great varieties, too, among the berry 70 fruits; 
the berry of the olive being quite different from that of the 
laurel, the berry of the lotus 71 from that of the cornel, and 
that of the myrtle from the berry of the lentisk. The berry, 
however, of the aquifolium 72 and the thorn 73 is quite destitute 
of juice. 

The cherry 74 occupies a middle place between the berry and 
the acinus fruit : it is white at first, which is the case also 

64 He suggests that it is so called from " unum edo," " I eat but one ;" 
a rather fanciful etymology, it would seem. 

65 This supposition is not warranted, from merely the fact of there being 
two names. 67 See B. xvi. c. 52. 

68 See B. xxiv. c. 35. 69 See B. xiii. c. 31. 

70 " Baccis." Berries, properly so called. 

71 The Celtis Australis of Linnaeus. 

72 Supposed by some to be the holly. See B. xxv. c. 72. 

73 He alludes to a variety of the Crataegus. 

74 The Cerasus vulgaris of modern botanists. It is said to have obtained 
its name from Cerasus, in Asia Minor, where Lucullus found it. 


322 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XV. 

with nearly all the berries. From white, some of the berries 
pass to green, the olive and the laurel, for instance ; while in 
the mulberry, the cherry, and the cornel, the change is to red ; 
and then in some to black, as with the mulberry, the cherry, 
and the olive, for instance. 


The cherry did not exist in Italy before the period of the 
victory gained over Mithridates by L. Lucullus, in the year 
of the City 680. He was the first to introduce this tree from 
Pontus, and now, in the course of one hundred and twenty 
years, it has travelled beyond the Ocean, and arrived in Bri- 
tannia even. The cherry, as we have already stated, 75 in spite 
of every care, it has been found impossible to rear in Egypt. 
Of this fruit, that known as the " Apronian" 76 is the reddest 
variety, the Lutatian 77 being the blackest, and the Csecilian 78 
perfectly round. The Junian 79 cherry has an agreeable flavour, 
but only, so to say, when eaten beneath the tree, as they are 
so remarkably delicate that they will not bear carrying. The 
highest rank, however, has been awarded to the duracinus 80 
variety, known in Campania as the " Plinian" 81 cherry, and in 
Belgica to the Lusitanian 8 ' 2 cherry, as also to one that grows 
on the banks of the Ehenus. This last kind has a third 
colour, being a mixture 83 of black, red, and green, and has 
always the appearance of being just on the turn to ripening. 
It is less than five years since the kind known as the " laurel- 
cherry" was introduced, of a bitter but not unpleasant flavour, 

75 He must allude to what lie has stated in B. xii. c. 3, for he has no- 
where said that the cherry will not grow in Egypt. It is said that the 
cherry is not to be found in Egypt at the present day. 

76 The gnotte cherry of the French, the mazzard of the English. 

77 A variety of the mazzard, Fee thinks. 

78 Some take this for the Cerasus Juliana, the guignier of the French, 
our white heart ; others, again, for the merisier, our morello 

79 It is most generally thought that this is the Cerasus avium of bota- 
nists, our morello, which is a very tender cherry. 

fclJ Or "hard berry," the Primus bigarella of Linnaeus, the red biga- 

81 Fee queries whether it may not have received its name of " Pliniana " 
in compliment to our author, or one of his family. 

82 Hardouin thinks that this Portuguese cherry is the griotte, or maz- 

biJ No such cherry is known at the present day. 


the produce of a graft 84 upon the laurel. The Macedonian 
cherry grows on a tree that is very small, 85 and rarely exceeds 
three cubits in height ; while the chain aacerasus 86 is still smaller, 
being but a mere shrub. The cherry is one of the first trees 
to recompense the cultivator with its yearly growth ; it loves 
cold localities and a site exposed to the north. 67 The fruit 
are sometimes dried in the sun, and preserved, like olives, in 


The same degree of care is expended also on the cultivation 
of the cornel 88 and the lentisk ; 89 that it may not be thought, 
forsooth, that there is anything that was not made for the 
craving appetite of man ! Various flavours are blended to- 
gether, and one is compelled to please our palates by the aid 
of another — hence it is that the produce of different lands 
and various climates are so often mingled with one another. 
For one kind of food it is India that we summon to our 
aid, and then for another w T e lay Egypt under contribution, 
or else Crete, or Cyrene, every country, in fact : no, nor does 
man stick at poisons 90 even, if he can only gratify his longing 
to devour everything : a thing that will be still more evident 
when we come to treat of the nature of herbs. 


While upon this subject, it may be as well to state that 
there are no less than thirteen different flavours 91 belonging 

84 Such a graft is impossible ; the laurel-cherry must have had some 
other origin. 

85 Fee~suggests that this may he the early dwarf cherry. 

86 Or "ground-cherry ;" a dwarf variety, if, indeed, it was a cherry-tree 
at all, of which Fee expresses some doubt. 

87 This explains, Fee says, why it will not grow in Egypt. 

88 The Cornus mas of Linnreus. The fruit of the cornel has a tart 
flavour, but is not eaten in modern Europe, except by school-boys. 

89 That produces mastich. See B. xii, c. 36. 

90 He alludes more especially, perhaps, to the use of cicuta or hemlock 
by drunkards, who looked upon it as an antidote to the effects of wine. 
See B. xiv. c. 7. 

91 Fee remarks, that in this enumeration there is no method. Linnaeus 
enumerates eleven principal flavours in the vegetable kingdom— dry or 
insipid, aqueous, viscous, salt, acrid, styptic, sweet, fat, bitter, acid, and 
nauseous ; these terms, however seem, some of them, to he very indefinite. 


324 pliny's natural history. [Book XV. 

in common to the fruits and the various juices : the sweet, the 
luscious, the unctuous, the bitter, the rough, the acrid, 92 the 
pungent, the sharp, the sour, and the salt ; in addition to 
which, there are three other kinds of flavours of a nature that is 
truly singular. The first of these last kinds is that flavour in 
which several other flavours are united, as in wine, for in- 
stance ; for in it we are sensible of the rough, the pungent, 93 
and the luscious, all at the same moment, and all of them 
flavours that belong to other substances. The second of these 
flavours is that in which we are sensible at the same instant 
of a flavour that belongs to another substance, and yet of one 
that is peculiar to the individual object of which we are tast- 
ing, such as that of milk, for instance : indeed, in milk we 
cannot correctly say that there is any pronounced flavour that 
is either sweet, or unctuous, or luscious, a sort of smooth taste 94 
in the mouth being predominant, which holds the place of a 
more decided flavour. The third instance is that of water, 
which has no flavour whatever, nor, indeed, any flavouring 
principle ; 95 but still, this very absence of flavour is considered 
as constituting one of them, and forming a peculiar class 96 of 
itself ; so much so, indeed, that if in water any taste or flavour- 
ing principle is detected, it is looked upon as impure. 

In the perception of all these various flavours the smell 
plays a very considerable 97 part, there being a very great 
affinity between them. Water, however, is properly quite in- 
odorous : and if the least smell is to be perceived, it is not 
pure water. It is a singular thing that three of the principal 
elements 98 of Nature — water, air, and fire— should have neither 
taste nor smell, nor, indeed, any flavouring principle whatever. 

92 It requires considerable discernment to appropriate nicely its English 
synonym to these four varieties of tastes, " acer, acutus, acerbus, and 
a'cidus," more especially when we find tbat the "bitter" and the "rough" 
are occupied already by the " amarus " and the " austerus." 

93 In allusion, probably, to the pungency of the aroma or bouquet. 

94 Lenitate. 

95 This seems to be the meaning of " succus." 

96 The " insipid." 

97 This is so much the case, that the most nauseous medicine may be 
taken almost with impunity — so far as taste is concerned — by tightly press- 
ing the nostrils while taking it. 

98 Fee remarks that this is true of fire, and of distilled or perfectly pure 
water ; but that physiologists are universally agreed that the air has its 
own peculiar smell. 



Among the juices, those of a vinous" flavour belong to the 
pear, the mulberry, and the myrtle, and not to the grape, a 
very singular fact An unctuous taste is detected in the olive, 1 
the laurel, the walnut, and the almond ; sweetness exists in 
the grape, the fig, and the date ; while in the plum class we 
find a watery 3 juice. There is a considerable difference, too, 
in the colours assumed by the various juices. That of the 
mulberry, the cherry, the cornel, and the black grape resem- 
bles the colour of blood, while in the white grape the juice is 
white. The humour found in the summit of the fig 3 is of a 
milky nature, but not so with the juice found in the body of 
the fruit. In the apple it is the colour of foam, 4 while in the 
peach it is perfectly colourless, and this is the case, too, with 
the duracinus, 5 which abounds in juice ; for who can say that 
he has ever detected any colour in it ? 

Smell, too, presents its own peculiar marvels ; > in the apple 
it is pungent, 6 and it is weak in the peach, while in the sweet 7 
fruits we perceive none at all : so, too, the sweet wines are 
inodorous, while the thinner ones have more aroma, and are 
much sooner fit for use than those of a thicker nature. 8 The 
odoriferous fruits are not pleasing to the palate m the same 
degree, seeing that the flavour 9 of them does not come up to 
their smell : hence it is that in the citron we find the smell 

99 All fruits that are rich in sugar and amidine, Fee says, either have, 
or acquire in time, a vinous flavour, by the development oi a certain quan- 

1 i i/the fruit with a fixed oil, this principle succeeds, when they are 
ripe, to the mucilaginous. 

2 He must mean a thinner juice, though still sweet. 

3 About the peduncle or stalk of the fig. The juice here, Fee says, is a 
real sugar, of the same nature as that which circulates throughout the 
whole fruit : the juice in the interior of which is produced by another order 

° 4 V The S 'iuice is only foamy when the vinous fermentation is established. 
It has that appearance, however, when the fruit is bitten with the teeth. 

5 The " hard-berry," or nectarine. 

6 In the sense of aromatic, or penetrating. 

7 He probably means those of a luscious or sirupy nature, without any 

acidity whatever. . . , M , Q _ 

8 He seems to mean -that the thick, luscious wines require longer keep- 
ing, before they will gain any aroma at all. This would be done, probably, 
at the expense of their sweetness. .. 

9 Or he may mean, that a fine flavour and a fine smell cannot co-exist. 


so extremely penetrating, 10 and the taste sour in the highest 
degree. Sometimes the smell is of a more delicate n nature, 
as in the quince, for instance ; while the fig has no odour 


Thus much, then, for the various classes and kinds of fruit : 
it will be as well now to classify their various natures within 
a more limited scope. Some fruits grow in a pod which is 
sweet itself, and contains a bitter seed : whereas in most kinds 
of fruit the seed is agreeable to the palate, those which grow 
in a pod are condemned. Other fruits are berries, with the 
stone within and the flesh without, as in the olive and the 
cherry : others, again, have the berry within and the stone 
without, the case, as we have already stated, with the berries 
that grow in Egypt. 12 

Those fruits, known as " pomes," have the same character- 
istics as the berry fruits ; in some of them we find the body of 
the fruit within and the shell without, as in the nut, for ex- 
ample ; others, again, have the meat of the fruit without and 
the shell within, the peach and the plum, for instance : the 
refuse part being thus surrounded with the flesh, while in 
other fruits the flesh is surrounded by the refuse part. 13 
nuts are enclosed in a shell, chesnuts in a skin ; in chesnuts 
the skin is taken off, but in medlars it is eaten with the rest. 
Acorns are covered with a crust, grapes Avith a husk, and 
pomegranates with a skin and an inner membrane. The mul- 
berry is composed of flesh and juice, while the cherry consists 
of juice and skin. In some fruits the flesh separates easily 
from the woody part, the walnut and the date, for instance ; 
in others it adheres, as in the case of the olive and the laurel 
berry : some kinds, again, partake of both natures, the peach, 
for example ; for in the duracinus 14 kind the flesh adheres to 
the stone, and cannot be torn away from it, while in the other 

10 The reading here should be " acutissimus," probably, _ instead of 
" acerrimus." The odour exists in the rind of the citron and in the outer 
coat of the quince ; if these are removed, the fruit becomes inodorous. 

11 " Tenuis." He may possibly mean " faint." 

12 The fruit of the ben, or myrobalanus, the Balanites JEgyptiaca. See 

B. xiii. cc, 17 and 19. . « * * 

13 Yitium. u Hard-berry or nectarine. Bee c. 11. 


sorts they are easily separated. In some fruits there is no 
stone or shell 15 either within or without, one variety of the 
date, 16 for instance. In some kinds, again, the shell is eaten, 
just the same as the fruit ; this we have already mentioned as 
being the case with a variety of the almond found in Egypt. 11 
Some fruits have on the outside a twofold refuse covering, the 
chesnut, the almond, and the walnut, for example. Some, 
again, are composed of three separate parts— the body oi the 
fruit, then a woody shell, and inside of that a kernel, as in the 


Some fruits grow closely packed together, such as grapes 
and sorbs : these last, just like so many grapes in a cluster, 
cling round the branch and bend it downwards with their 
weight. On the other hand, some fruits grow separately, at a 
distance from one another; this is the case with the peach. 
Some fruits are enclosed in a sort of matrix, as with the grains 
of the pomegranate : some hang down from a stalk, such as 
the pear, for instance: others hang in clusters, grapes and 
dates, for example. Others, again, grow upon stalks^and 
bunches united : this we find the case with the berries of the 
ivy and the elder. Some adhere close to the branches, like 
the laurel berry, while other varieties lie close to the branch 
or hang from it, as the case may be : thus we find in the olive 
some fruit with short stalks, and others with long. Some fruits 
grow with a little calyx at the top, the pomegranate, for ex- 
ample, the medlar, and the lotus 18 of Egypt and the Euphrates. 

Then, too, as to the various parts of fruit, they are held m 
different degrees of esteem according to their respective re- 
commendations. In the date it is the flesh that is usually 
liked, in those of Thebais it is the crust ; 19 the grape and the 
caryota date are esteemed for their juice, the pear and the 
apple for their firmness, the melimelum 20 for its soft meat, 

15 Lignum : literally, " wood." il There is no wood, cither within or 
without?" fie has one universal name for what we call shell, seed, stones, 
pips, grains, &c. 

ls The " spado," or " eunuch " date. See B. xiii. c. 8. 

!" See B. xiii. c. 17. The fruit of the ben is alluded to, hut, as lee 
observes, Pliny is wrong in calling it an almond, as it is a pulpy fruit. 

18 The Nymphosa nelumbo of Linnaeus. 

19 Or shell, which, as Tee remarks, participates but very little m the 
properties of the flesh. 

2 " Or " honey" apple; see c. 15 of this Book. 

328 plint's natural history. [Book XV. 

the mulberry for its cartilaginous consistency, and nuts for 
their kernels. Some fruits in Egypt are esteemed for their 
skin; the carica, 21 for instance. This skin, which in the 
green fig is thrown away as so much refuse peeling, when the 
fig is dried is very highly esteemed. In the papyrus, 32 
the ferula, 23 and the white thorn 24 the stalk itself constitutes 
the fruit, and the shoots of the fig-tree 25 are similarly 

Among the shrubs, the fruit of the caper 26 is eaten along 
with the stalk ; and in the carob, 27 what is the part that is 
eaten but so much wood ? Nor ought we to omit one pecu- 
liarity that exists in the seed of this fruit — it can be called 
neither flesh, wood, nor cartilage, and yet no other name has 
been found for it. 

CHAP. 35. (29). THE MYRTLE. 

The nature of the juices that are found in the myrtle are 
particularly remarkable, for it is the only one 28 of all the trees, the 
berries of which produce two kinds of oil 29 as well as of wine, 
besides myrtidanum, 30 of which we have already spoken. The 
berry of this was also put to another use in ancient times, for 
before pepper 31 was known it was employed in place of it as a 
seasoning ; so much so, indeed, that a name has been derived 
from it for the highly-seasoned dish which to this day is known 
by the name of " myrtatum." 32 It is by the aid of these ber- 
ries, too, that the flavour of the flesh of the wild boar is 
improved, and they generalty form one of the ingredients in 
the flavouring of our sauces. 


This tree was seen for the first time in the regions of 

2i Or " Carian " fig. See c. 19 of this Book. 

22 See B. xiii. c. 11. 

23 See B. xiii. c. 42, and B. xx. cc. 9 and 23. 

24 See B. xiii. c. 26, and B. xxiv. c. 66. 

25 See B. xiii. c. 22. Fee remarks that it is singular how the ancients 
could eat the branches of the fig-tree, the juice being actually a poison. 

26 See B. xiii. c. 44. 2 ? See c. 26 of this Book. 

28 He is wrong : the same is the case with the berries of the laurel, and, 
indeed, many other kinds of berries. 

29 See c. 7 of this Book. 30 See B. xiv. c. 9. 

31 See B. xii. c. 14. 

32 A kind of sausage, seasoned with myrtle. See also B. xxvii c. 49. 


Europe, which commence on this side of the Cerannian moun- 
tains, 33 growing at Circeii, 34 near the tomb of Elpenor there : 35 
it still retains its Greek 36 name, which clearly proves it to be 
an exotic. There were myrtles growing on the site now occu- 
pied by Rome, at the time of its foundation ; for a tradition 
exists to the effect that the llomans and the Sabines, after 
they had intended fighting, on account of the virgins who had 
been ravished by the former, purified themselves, first laying 
down their arms, with sprigs of myrtle, on the very same spot 
which is now occupied by the statues of Venus Cluacina ; for 
in the ancient language " cluere" means to purify. 

This tree is employed, too, for a species of fumigation ; 37 being 
selected for that purpose, because Venus, who presides over all 
unions, is the tutelary divinity of the tree. 38 I am not quite 
sure, too, whether this tree was not the very first that was 
planted in the public places of Eome, the result of some omi- 
nous presage by the augurs of wondrous import. For at the 
Temple of Quirinus, or, in other words, of Romulus himself, 
one of the most ancient in Rome, there were formerly two 
myrtle- trees, which grew for a long period just in front of 
the temple ; one of these was called the Patrician tree, the 
other the Plebeian. The Patrician myrtle was for many years 
the superior tree, full of sap and vigour ; indeed, so long as the 
Senate maintained its superiority, so did the tree, being of 
large growth, while the Plebeian tree presented a meagre, 
shrivelled appearance. In later times, however, the latter tree 
gained the superiority, and the Patrician myrtle began to fail 
j ust at the period of the 39 Marsic War, 40 when the power of 
the Senate was so greatly weakened : and little by little did 
this once majestic tree sink into a state of utter exhaustion 
and sterility. There was an ancient altar 41 also, consecrated' 

33 He means the Acroceraunian chain in Epirus, mentioned in B. iii. 

34 See B. iii. c. 9. 

35 He was one of the companions of Ulysses, fabled by Homer and Ovid 
to have been transformed by Circe into a swine. 

36 Mvpaivrj was its Greek name. 37 See B. xxv. c. 59. 

38 See B. xii. c. 2. Ovid, Fasti, B. iv. 1. 15, et seq., says that Venus con- 
cealed herself from the gaze of the Satyrs behind this tree. 

39 Either this story is untrue, or we have a right to suspect that some 
underhand agency was employed for the purpose of imposing on the super- 
stitious credulity of the Boman people. 

*» Or Social War. See B. ii c. 85. 

41 Near the altar of Consus. close to the meta of the Circus. 

330 plikt's natural HISTORY. [Book XV. 

to Venus Myrtea, known at the present day by the name of 


Cato 42 makes mention of three varieties of the myrtle, the 
black, white, and the conjugula, perhaps so called from 
its reference to conjugal unions, and belonging to the same 
species as that which grew where Cluacina's statues now 
stand : at the present day the varieties are differently distin- 
guished into the cultivated and the wild 43 myrtle, each of 
which includes a kind with a large leaf. The kind known as 
" oxymyrsine," 44 belongs only to the wild variety : ornamental 
gardeners classify several varieties of the cultivated kind ; the 
" Tarentine," 45 they speak of as a myrtle with a small leaf, 
the myrtle of this country 46 as having a broad leaf, and the 
hexasticha 47 as being very thickly covered with leaves, growing 
in rows of six : it is not, however, made any use of. There 
are two other kinds, that are branchy and well covered. In 
my opinion, the conjugula is the same that is now called the 
Eoman myrtle. It is in Egypt that the myrtle is most 

Cato 48 has taught us how to make a wine from the black 
myrtle, by drying it thoroughly in the shade, and then putting 
it in must : he says, also, that if the berries are not quite dry, 
it will produce an oil. Since his time a method has been dis- 
covered of making a pale wine from the white variety ; two 
sextarii of pounded myrtle are steeped in three semi-sextarii of 
wine, and the mixture is then subjected to pressure. 

The leaves 49 also are dried by themselves till they are capa- 
ble of being reduced to a powder, which is used for the treat- 
ment of sores on the human body : this powder is of a Rightly 
corrosive nature, and is employed also for the purpose of 
checking the perspiration. A thing that is still more re- 

42 De Re Rust. c. 8, 

43 The so-called wild myrtle does not in reality belong to the genus 

44 See B. xxiii. c. 83 ; the Ruscus aculeatus of the family of the Asparagea. 

45 The common myrtle, Myrtus communis of the naturalists. 

46 Or Roman myrtle, a variety of the Myrtus communis. 

47 The " six row " myrtle. Fee thinks "that it helongs to the Myrtus 
angustifolia Boetica of Bauhin. 

« De Re Rust. 125. 49 See B. xxiii. c. 81. 


markable, this oil is possessed of a certain vinous flavour, 
being, at the same time, of an unctuous nature, and remarkably 
efficacious for improving 50 wines. When this is done, the 
wine strainer 51 is dipped in the oil before it is used, the result 
of which is that it retains the lees of the wine, and allows 
nothing but the pure liquor to escape, while at the same time 
it accompanies the wine and causes a marked improvement in 
its flavour. 

Sprigs of myrtle, if carried by a person when travelling on 
foot, are found to be very refreshing 52 on a long journey. 
Pangs, too, made of myrtle which has never been touched by 
iron, are an excellent specific for swellings in the groin. 53 


The myrtle has played 54 its part, also, in the successes of 
war. Posthumius Tubertus, who gained a victory over the 
Sabines in his consulship, 55 was the first person who entered 
the City enjoying the honour of an ovation, 56 for having 
achieved this success with ease and without bloodshed : upon 
which occasion he made his entry crowned with the myrtle of 
Yenus Yictrix, and thereby rendered her tree an object of 
regard 57 to our enemies even. Ever since this occasion, the 
wreath of those who have enjoyed an ovation has beenmade 
of myrtle, with the exception of M. Crassus, 58 who, on his vic- 
tory over the fugitive slaves and Spartacus, made his entry 
crowned with laurels. Massurius informs us, also, that some 
generals, on the occasion of a triumph even, have worn a 
wreath of myrtle in the triumphal car. L, Piso states that 

50 A new proof, as Fee remarks, that the ancients had peculiar notions 
of their own, as to the flavour of wine ; myrtle herries, he says, would 
impart to wine a detestable aromatic flavour. 

61 " Saccis :" the strainer being made of cloth. See B. xiv. c. 28. 

52 They would be of no assistance whatever, and this statement is en- 
tirely fictitious. 

5i He may possibly mean hernia. 

54 In addition to all those particulars, he might have stated that the 
Lares, or household gods, were crowned with myrtle, and that it was not 
allowed to enter the Temple of Bona Dea. 

55 a.u.c. 251. 

56 See the Notes to c. 35 of this Book. 

6 ' Because the enemy would be less likely to envy us a bloodless triumph. 

53 He disdained the more humble myrtle crown, and intrigued success- 
fully with the Senate to allow him to wear a wreath of laurel. 

332 flint's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XV. 

Papirius Maso, who was the first to enjoy a triumph for a 
victory over the Marsi— it was on the Alban Mount 59 — was 
in the habit of attending at the games of the Circus, wearing 
a wreath of myrtle : he was the maternal grandfather of the 
second Scipio Africanus. Marcus Valerius 60 wore two wreaths 
one of laurel, the other of myrtle ; it was in consequence of 
a vow which he had made to that effect. 

chap. 39. (30.)— the laurel; thirteen varieties of it. 

The laurel is especially consecrated to triumphs, is remarkably 
ornamental to houses, and guards the portals of our emperors 61 
and our pontiffs : there suspended alone, it graces the palace, and 
is ever on guard before the threshold. Cato 62 speaks of two 
varieties of this tree, the Delphic 63 and the Cyprian. Pompeius 
Lenams has added another, to which he has given the name of. 
" mustax," from the circumstance of its being used for putting 
under the cake known by the name of " mustaceum. 6i " He 
says that this variety has a very large leaf, flaccid, and of a 
whitish hue ; that the Delphic laurel is of one uniform colour, 
greener than the other, with berries of very large size, and of 
a red tint approaching to green. He says, too, that it is with 
this laurel that the victors at Delphi 65 are crowned, and warriors 
who enjoy the honours of a triumph at Rome. The Cyprian 
laurel, he says, has a short leaf, is of a blackish colour, with 
an imbricated 66 edge, and crisped. 

59 The Senate refused him a triumph ; and he accordingly celebrated 
one on the Alban Mount, b.c. 231. Paulus Diaconus says that his 
reason for wearing a myrtle crown was his victory over the Corsicans on 
the Myrtle Plains, though where they were, or what victory is alluded to, 
is not known. 

eo The brother of Valerius Publicola. 

6i We learn from two passages in Ovid that the laurel was suspended 
over the gates of the emperors. This, as Fee remarks, was done for two 
reasons : because it was looked upon as aprotection against lightning, and 
because it was considered an emblem of immortality. 

62 De Pe Rust. 133. . ■ •*,*,. e^ a 

63 Or " laurel of Apollo :'* it was into this tree that Daphne was tabled 
to have been changed. See Ovid's Met. B. i. 1. 557, et seq. 

6i Cato De Pe Pust. c. 121, tells us that this cake was made of fine wheat, 
must, anise, cummin, suet, cheese, and scraped laurel sprigs. Laurel leaves 
were placed under it when baked. This mixture was considered a hght 
food, good for the stomach ! 

65 At the Pythian Games celebrated there. 

ee Meaning" that it curves at the edge, something like a pent-house. 

Chap. 39.] 


Since his time, however, the varieties have considerably 
augmented. There is the tinus 67 for instance, by some con- 
sidered as a species of wild laurel, while others, again, rega-d 
it as a tree of a separate class ; indeed, it does differ from ^the 
laurel as to the colour, the berry being of an azure blue. The 
royal 08 laurel, too, has since been added, which has of late 
begun to be known as the " Augustan : " both the tree, as 
well as the leaf, are of remarkable size, and the berries have 
not the usual rough taste. Some say, however, that the royal 
laurel and the Augustan are not the same tree, and make out 
the former to be a peculiar kind, with a leaf both longer and 
broader than that of the Augustan. The same authors, also, 
make a peculiar species of the bacalia the commonest laurel 
of all, and the one that bears the greatest number of berries. 
With them, too, the barren laurel 69 is the laurel of the tri- 
umphs, and they say that this is the one that is used by war- 
riors when enjoying a triumph— a thing that surprises me 
very much ; unless, indeed, the use of it was first introduced 
by the late Emperor Augustus, and it is to be considered as 
the progeny of that laurel, which, as we shall just now have 
occasion to mention, was sent to him from heaven ; it being the 
smallest of them all, with a crisped 70 short leaf, and very rarely 
to be met with. 

In ornamental gardening we also find the taxa 71 employed, 
with a small leaf sprouting from the middle of the leaf, and 
forming a fringe, as it were, hanging from it ; the spadonia, 73 
too, without this fringe, a tree that thrives remarkably well 
in the shade : indeed, however dense the shade may be, it will 
soon cover the spot with its shoots. There is the chamse- 
daphne, 73 also, a shrub that grows wild ; the Alexandrian 74 

6' Or tine tree, the Viburnum tinus of Linnaeus, one of the caprifolia. 
It is not reckoned as one of the laurels, though it has many of the same 
characteristics. 68 Begia. " 

69 The barren laurel of the triumphs was the Laurus nobilis ot Linnaeus, 
which has onlv male flowers. 

70 The Laurus vulgaris folio undulato of the Parisian Horhis, Fee says. 

71 Not a laurel, nor yet a dicotyledon, Fee says, but one of the Aspa- 
ragea, probably the Buscus hypoglossum of Linnaeus, sometimes known, 
however, as the Alexandrian laurel. 

" Or " eunuch" laurel ; "a variety, probably, of the Laurus nobilis. 

73 The " ground laurel :" according to Sprengel, this is the Buscus race- 
mosus of Linnaeus. See B. xxiv. c. 81. 

7* From Alexandria in Troas : the Euscus hypophyllum of Linnaeus, it 
is supposed. 


laurel, by some known as the Idean, by others as the " hypo- 
glottion," 75 by others as the " carpophyllon," 76 and by others, 
again, as the " hypelates." 77 From the root it throws out 
branches three quarters of a foot in length ; it is much used 
in ornamental gardening, and for making wreaths, and it has 
a more pointed leaf than that of the myrtle, and superior to it 
in softness, whiteness, and size : the seed, which lies between 
the leaves, is red. This last kind grows in great abundance 
on Mount Ida and in the vicinity of Heraclea in Pontus : it is 
only found, however, in mountainous districts. 

The laurel, too, known as the daphnoides, 78 is a variety that 
has received many different names : by some it is called the 
Pelasgian laurel, by others the euthalon, and by others the 
stephanon Alexandri. 79 This is also a branchy shrub, with a 
thicker and softer leaf than that of the ordinary laurel : if 
tasted, it leaves a burning sensation in the mouth and throat : 
the berries are red, inclining to black. The ancient writers 
have remarked, that in their time there was no species of 
laurel in the island of Corsica. Since then, however, it has been 
planted there, and has thrived well. 


This tree is emblematical of peace : 80 when a branch of it 
is extended, it is to denote a truce between enemies in arms. 
For the Romans more particularly it is the messenger of joyful 
tidings, and of victory : it accompanies the despatches 81 of the 
general, and it decorates the lances and javelins of the soldiers 
and the fasces which precede their chief. It is of this tree 
that branches are deposited on the lap of Jupiter All-good and 
All-great, 82 so often as some new victory has imparted uni- 

75 " The tongue below." This, Fee justly says, would appear to be 
a more appropriate name for the taxa, mentioned above. 

76 From the berry being' attached to the leaf. 

77 " The thrower out from below," perhaps. 

78 Sprengel thinks that it is the Clematis vitalba of Linnams. Fuch- 
sius identities it with the Daphne laureola of Linnaeus ; and Fee thinks it 
may be either that or the Daphne mezereum of Linnaeus. 

79 " Crown of Alexander." 

so Curiously enough, it is generally considered now more suggestive of 
war than of peace. 

81 The despatches were wrapped iu laurel leaves. 
83 Optimus Maximus. 


versal gladness. This is done, not because it is always green, 
nor yet because it is an emblem of peace — for in both of those 
respects the olive would take the precedence of it— but because 
it is _ the most beauteous tree on Mount Parnassus, and was 
pleasing for its gracefulness to Apollo even ; a deity to whom 
the kings of Rome sent offerings at an early period, as we 
learn from the case of L. Brutus. 83 Perhaps, too, honour is 
more particularly paid to this tree because it was there that 
Brutus 84 earned the glory of asserting his country's liberties, 
when, by # the direction of the oracle, he kissed that laurel- 
bearing soil. Another reason, too, may be the fact, that of all 
the shrubs that are planted and received in our houses, this is 
the only one that is never struck by lightning. 85 It is for 
these reasons, in my opinion, that the post of honour has been 
awarded to the laurel more particularly in triumphs, and not, 
as Massurius says, because it was used for the purposes of 
fumigation'and purification from the blood of the enemy. 

In addition to the above particulars, it is not permitted to 
defile the laurel and the olive by applying them to profane 
uses ; so much so, indeed, that, not even for the propitiation of 
the divinities, should a fire be lighted with them at either 
altar or shrine. 86 Indeed, it is very evident that the laurel pro- 
tests against such usage by crackling 87 as it does in the fire, 
thus, in a manner, giving expresssion to its abhorrence of such 
treatment. ^ The wood of this tree when eaten is good as a 
specific for internal maladies and affections of the sinews. 88 

It is said that when it thundered, the Emperor Tiberius was 

83 L.Junius Brutus, the nephew of Tarquin. Pliny alludes to the message 
seuo to Delphi, for the purpose of consulting the oracle on a serpent being 
seen in the royal palace. 

81 He alludes to the circumstance of the priestess being asked who should 
reign at Kome after Tarquin ; upon which she answered, ' k He who first 
kisses his mother ;" on which Brutus, the supposed idiot, stumbled to the 
ground,-and kissed the earth, the mother of all. 

65 A mere absurdity; the same has been said of the- beech, and with 
equal veracity. ' 

» 6 He makes a distinction between "altar" and "ara" here The 
former was the altar of the superior Divinities, the latter of the superior 
and interior as well. l 

' The crackling of the "laurel is caused by efforts of the essential oil to 
escape from the parenchyma or cellular tissue of the leaf, which it breaks 
with considerable violence when burning. 
88 Nervorum. See B. xsiii. c. 80. °" 

336 plint's natubal history. [Book XV. 

in the habit of putting on a wreath of laurel to allay his ap- 
prehensions of disastrous effects from the lightning. 89 There 
are also some remarkable facts connected with the laurel m 
the history of the late Emperor Augustus : once while Livia 
Drusilla who afterwards on her marriage with the Emperor 
assumed the name of Augusta, at the time that she was 
affianced to him, was seated, there fell into her lap a hen ot 
remarkable whiteness, which an eagle let fall from aloft with- 
out its receiving the slightest injury : on Livia viewing it 
without any symptoms of alarm, it was discovered that miracle 
was added to miracle, and that it held in its beak a branch ot 
laurel covered with berries. The aruspices gave orders that 
the hen and her progeny should be carefully preserved, and 
the branch planted and tended with religious care. This was 
accordingly done at the country-house belonging to the Caesars, 
on the Flaminian Way, near the banks of the Tiber, eight 
miles from the City ; from which circumstance that road has 
since received the title "Ad gallinas." 90 Erom the branch 
there has now arisen, wondrous to relate, quite a grove : and 
Augustus CaBsar afterwards, when celebrating a triumph, held 
a branch of it in his hand and wore a wreath of this laurel on 
his head ; since which time all the succeeding emperors have 
followed his example. Hence, too, has originated the custom of 
planting the branches which they have held on these occasions, 
and we°thus see groves of laurel still existing which owe their 
respective names to this circumstance. It was on the above 
occasion, too, that not improbably a change was effected in 
the usual laurel of the triumph. 91 The laurel is the only one 
among the trees that in the Latin language has given an 
appellation to a man, 92 and it is the only one the leaf of which 
has a distinct name of its own,— it being known by the name 
of "laurea." The name of this tree is still retained by one 
place in the city of Eome, for we find a spot on the Aventine 

*> Suetonius, c. 6€, confirms this. Fee says that the same superstition 
still exists in some parts of France. See B. ii. c. 56. ■ 

90 " The Poultry." 91 See c - 39 of tnis Book. 

9 2 See B xxxi. c. 3. As Poinsinet remarks, this is not strictly true; 
the name "Vinucius" most probably came from "vinea," a vineyard. 
Numerous names were derived also from seeds and vegetables; ^liso, 
Cicero, and Lactuca, for instance, among a host of others. " Scipio, too, 
means a " walking-stick." 



Mount still known by the name of " Loretum," 93 where for- 
merly a laurel-grove existed. The laurel is employed in 
purifications, and we may here mention, incidentally, that it 
will grow from slips 94 — though Democritus and Theophrastus 
have expressed their doubts as to that fact. 

We shall now proceed to speak of the forest trees. 

Summary. — Eemarkable facts, narratives, and observations, 
one hundred and twenty. 

Eomax authors quoted. — Fenestella, 95 Fabianus, 96 Virgil, 97 
Corn. Yalerianus, 98 Celsus," Cato the Censor, 1 Saserna 2 father 
and son, Scrofa, 3 M. Yarro, 4 D. Silanus, 5 Fabius Pictor, 6 Tro- 
gus, 7 Hyginus, 8 Flaccus Verrius, 9 Graecinus, 10 Atticus Julius, 11 
Columella, 12 Massurius Sabinus, 13 Tergilla, 14 CottaMessalinus, 15 
L. Piso, 16 Pompeius Lenaeus, 17 Maccius Plautus, 18 Flavius, 19 
Dossenus, 20 Scaevola, 21 ^Elius, 22 Ateius Capito, 23 Sextius Niger, 24 
Yibius Rufus. 25 

Foreign authors quoted. — Aristotle, 26 Democritus, 27 King 
Hiero, 28 King Attalus Philometor, 29 Archytas, 30 Xenophon, 31 
Amphilochus 32 of Athens, Anaxipolis 33 of Thasos, Apollodorus 34 
of Lemnos, Aristophanes 35 of Miletus, Antigonus 36 of Cymse, 

9 3 The 
95 See 
97 See 
99 See 
2 See 
4 See 
6 See 
8 See 
10 See 
12 See 
14 See 
16 See 
« See 
20 See 
22 See 
24 See 
26 See 
28 See 
30 See 
32 See 
34 See 
* See 

end of B. viii. 
end of B. vii. 
end of B. vii. 
end of B. x. 
end of B. ii. 
end of B. x. 
end of B. iii. 
end of B. xiv. 
end of B. viii. 
end of B. xiv. 
end of B. ii. 
end of B. xiv. 
end of B. xiv. 
end of B. xiv. 
end of B. xii. 
end of B. ii. 
end of B. viii. ■ 
end of B. viii. 
end of B. viii. 
end of B. viii. 
end of B. viii. 

94 See 

95 See 
98 See 

1 See 

a See 

5 See 

7 See 

9 See 

11 See 

is See 

15 See 

w See 

19 See 

21 See 

23 See 

2 5 See 

27 See 

2 9 See 

si See 

33 See 

35 See 

B. xvii 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 
end of 

. c. 11. 
B. ii. 
B. iii. 
B. iii. 
B. xi. 
B. xiv. 
B. vii. 
B. iii. 
B. xiv. 
B. vii. 
B. xiv. 
B. xiv. 
B. xii. 
B. xiv. 
B. iii. 
B. xiv. 
B. ii. 
B. viii. 
B. iv. 
B. viii. 
B. viii. 

vol. in. 

338 pliny's natueal histoey. [Book XV. 

Agathocles 37 of Chios, Apollonius 38 of Pergamus, Aristander 39 
of Athens, Bacchius 40 of Miletus, Bion 41 of Soli, Chsereas 42 of 
Athens, Chaeristus 43 of Athens, Diodorus 44 of Priene, Dion 45 
of Colophon, Epigenes 46 of Rhodes, Euagon 47 of Thasos, Eu- 
phronius 48 of Athens, Androtion 49 who wrote on Agriculture, 
JEschrion 50 who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus 51 who wrote 
on Agriculture, Dionysius 52 who translated Mago, 53 Diophanes 54 
who made an Epitome of the work of Dionysius, Asclepiades 55 
the Physician, Erasistratus 56 the Physician, Commiades 57 who 
wrote on the preparation of Wines, Aristomachus 58 who wrote 
on the same subject, Hicesius 59 who wrote on the same subject, 
Themiso 60 the Physician, Onesicritus, 61 King Juba. 62 

37 See end of B. viii. 

38 See end of B. viii. 39 See end of B. viii. 
40 See end of B. viii. 41 See end of B. vi. 
42 See end of B. viii. 43 See end of B. xiv. 

44 He is mentioned also by Varro and Columella, as a writer upon agri- 
culture ; but all further particulars of him are unknown. 

45 See end of B. viii. 46 See end of B. ii. 
47 See end of B. x. 48 See end of B. viii. 
49 See end of B. viii. 50 See end of B. viii. 
51 See end of B. viii. 52 See end of B. xii. 
53 See end of B. viii. 54 See end of B. viii. 
55 See end of B. vii. 56 See end. of B. xi. 

57 Beyond what Pliny here says, nothing is known of him. 

58 See end of B. xi. 

59 A physician who lived probably at the end of the first century B.C. 
He was a disciple of Erasistratus, and founded a medical school at Smyrna. 
He is quoted by Athenaeus, and in B. xxvii. c. 14, Pliny calls him " a phy- 
sician of no small authority." He seems to have been a voluminous writer ; 
but none of his works have survived. 

60 See end of B. xi. 61 See end of B. ii. 
62 See end of B. v. 





We have given the precedence in this account to the fruit- 
trees and others which, by their delicious juices, first taught 
man to give a relish to his food and the various aliments 
requisite for his sustenance, whether it is that they spontane- 
ously produce these delightful flavours, or whether we have 
imparted them by the methods of adoption and intermarriage, 1 
thus bestowing a favour, as it were, upon the very beasts and 
birds. The next thing, then, would be to speak of the glandi- 
ferous trees, the trees which proffered the earliest nutriment 
to the appetite of man, and proved themselves his foster- 
mothers in his forlorn and savage state — did I not feel myself 
constrained on this occasion to make some mention of the sur- 
prise which I have felt on finding by actual experience what 
is the life of mortals when they inhabit a country that is with- 
out either tree or shrub. 

(1.) I have already stated 2 that in the East many nations 
that dwell on the shores of the ocean are placed in this neces- 
sitous state ; and I myself have personally witnessed the con- 
dition of the Chauci, 3 both the Greater and the Lesser, situate 
in the regions of the far North. In those climates a vast tract 
of land, invaded twice each day and night by the overflowing 
waves of the ocean, opens a question that is eternally proposed 
to us by Nature, whether these regions are to be looked upon 
as belonging to the land, or whether as forming a portion of 
the sear 

Here a wretched race is found, inhabiting either the more 
elevated spots of land, or else eminences artificially constructed, 
and of a height to which they know by experience that the 
highest tides will never reach. Here they pitch their cabins ; 

1 The methods of grafting and inoculation. 

2 B. xiii. c. 50. They dwelt between the Ems and the Elbe. 

3 See E. iv. c. 29. 


310 ploy's natural history. [Book XVI. 

and when the waves cover the surrounding country far and 
wide, like so many mariners on board ship are they : when, 
again, the tide recedes, their condition is that of so many 
shipwrecked men, and around their cottages they pursue the 
fishes as they make their escape with the receding tide. It is 
not their lot, like the adjoining nations, to keep any flocks for 
sustenance by their milk, nor even to maintain a warfare with 
wild beasts, every shrub, even, being banished afar. With the 
sedge 4 and the rushes of the marsh they make cords, and 
with these they weave the nets employed in the capture of the 
fish ; they fashion the mud, 5 too, with their hands, and drying 
it by the help of the winds more than of the sun, cook their 
food by its aid, and so warm their entrails, frozen as they 
are by the northern blasts; their only 6 drink, too, is rain- 
water, which they collect in holes dug at the entrance of their 
abodes : and yet these nations, if this very day they were van- 
quished by the Eoman people, would exclaim against being 
reduced 7 to slavery ! Be it so, then — Fortune is most kind to 
many, just when she means to punish them. 8 



Another marvel, too, connected with the forests ! They 
cover all the rest of Germany, and by their shade augment the 
cold. But the highest of them all are those not far distant 
from the Chauci already mentioned, and more particularly in 
the vicinity of the two lakes 9 there. The very shores are lined 
with oaks, 10 which manifest an extraordinary eagerness to 

4 " Ulva." This appears to be a general name for all kinds of aquatic 
fresh- water plants; as "alga" is that of the various sea-weeds. 

5 He alludes to turf for firing ; the Humus turfa of the naturalists. 

6 Of course this applies only to those who dwelt near the sea-shore, and 
not those more inland. 

7 Guichardin remarks, that Pliny does not here bear in mind the sweets 
of liberty. 

8 So Laberius says, " Fortuna multis parcere in pcenam solet;" "For- 
tune is the saving of many, when she means to punish them." 

9 He alludes to the vicinity of the Zuyder Zee. See B. iv. c. 29. The 
spots where these forests once stood are now cultivated plains, covered with 
villages and other works of the industry of man. 

10 " Quercus." We shall see, in the course of this Book, that its identity 
has not been satisfactorily established. 

Chap. 3.] THE ACORN OAK. - 34 1 

attain their growth : undermined by the waves or uprooted by 
the blasts, with their entwining roots they carry vast forests 
along with them, and, thus balanced, stand upright as they float 
along, while they spread afar their huge branches like the 
rigging of so many ships. Many is the time that these trees 
have struck our fleets with alarm, when the waves have driven 
them, almost purposely it would seem, against their prows as 
they stood at anchor in the night; and the men, destitute of 
all remedy and resource, have had to engage in a naval com- 
bat with a forest of trees ! 

(2.) In the same northern regions, too, is the Hercynian 11 
Forest, whose gigantic oaks, 12 uninjured by the lapse of ages, 
and contemporary with the creation of the world, by their near 
approach to immortality surpass all other marvels known. Not 
to speak of other matters that would surpass all belief, it is a 
well-known fact that their roots, 13 as they meet together, up- 
heave vast hills ; or, if the earth happens not to accumulate 
with them, rise aloft to the very branches even, and, as they 
contend for the mastery, form arcades, like so many portals 
thrown open, and large enough to admit of the passage of a 
squadron of horse. 

(3.) All these trees, in general, belong to the glandiferous 
class, 14 and have ever been held in the highest honour by the 
Eoman people. 


It is with the leaves of this class of trees that our civic 
crown is made, the most glorious reward that can be bestowed 
on military valour, and, for this long time past, the emblem of 
the imperial 15 clemency ; since the time, in fact, when, after 

» See B. iv. c. 28, and the Note, Vol. i. p. 348. The village of Her- 
cingen, near "Waldsee, is supposed to retain the ancient name. 

12 " Robora." It will be seen in this Book that the robur has not been 
identified, any more than the quercus. 

13 Fee treats this story as utterly fabulous. The branches of the Ficus 
Indica grow downwards, and so form arcades certainly ; but such is not the 
case with any European tree. 

14 Not only oaks, but a variety of other trees, were included under this 
name by the ancients; the "glans" embracing not only the acorn, but 
the mast of the beech, and the hard fruits of other trees. 

15 He alludes to the crown of oak-leaves, which was suspended on the 
gates before the palace of the emperors. A civic crown had been voted by 
the senate to Julius Caesar, on the ground of having saved his country. 

342 plint's natural histoey. [Book XVI. 

the impiety of civil war, it was first deemed a meritorious 
action not to shed the blood of a fellow-citizen. Far inferior 
to this in rank are the mural 16 crown, the vallar, 17 and the 
golden 18 one, superior though they may be in the value of the 
material : inferior, too, in merit, is the rostrate 19 crown, though 
ennobled, in recent times more particularly, by two great names, 
those of M. Yarro, 20 who was presented with it by Pompeius 
Magnus, for his great achievements in the Piratic "War, and of 
M. Agrippa, on whom it was bestowed by Caesar, at the end 
of the Sicilian War, which was also a war against pirates. 

In former days the beaks 21 of vessels, fastened in front of the 
tribunal, graced the Forum, and seemed, as it were, a crown 
placed upon the head of the Roman people itself. In later 
times, however, they began to be polluted and trodden under 
foot amid the seditious movements of the tribunes, the public 
interest was sacrificed to private advantage, each citizen 
sought solely his own advancement, and everything looked 
upon as holy was abandoned to profanation — still, from amid 
all this, the Rostra 23 emerged once again, and passed from 
beneath the feet of the citizens to their heads. Augustus 
presented to Agrippa the rostrate crown, while lie himself 
received the civic crown 23 at the hands of all mankind. 


In ancient times crowns 23 were presented to none but a 

16 Given to the first man who scaled the wall of a besieged place. It 
was made of gold, and decorated with turrets. 

17 Given to the first soldier who surmounted the vallum or entrench- 
ments. It was made of gold, and ornamented with "valli," or palisades. 

13 One of the varieties of the triumphal crown was the " corona aurea," 
or " golden crown." 

» Made of gold, and decorated with the "rostra," or "beaks of ships. 

2° See B. vii. c. 31. 

2i The orator's stage in the Forum was decorated with the "rostra, or 
" beaks " of the ships of the Antiates ; hence it received the name cf " Ros- 
trum." The locality of the Rostra was changed by Julius Caesar. 

22 Alluding to the prostitution of the Rostra by the tribunes and others 
for the purposes of sedition, and the presentation by Augustus of the ros- 
trate crown to Agrippa. m 

23 Which was suspended, as already mentioned, at the gate ot his palace. 
25 Athenseus and Fabius Pictor say that Janus was the first wearer of a 

crown : Pherecydes says it was Saturn, Diodorus Siculus Jupiter, and Leo 
JEgyptiacus Isis, who wore one of wheat. 


divinity, hence it is that Homer 26 awards them only to the 
gods of heaven and to the entire army ; but never to an indi- 
vidual, however great his achievements in battle may have 
been. It is said, too, that Father Liber was the first of all 
who placed a crown on his head, and that it was made of ivy. 27 
In succeeding times, those engaged in sacrifices in honour of 
the gods began to wear them, the victims being decked with 
wreaths as well. More recently, again, they were employed 
in the sacred games; 28 and at the present day they are be- 
stowed on such occasions, not upon the victor, indeed, but 
upon his country, which receives, it is proclaimed, this crown at 
his hands. 29 Hence arose the usage of conferring wreaths upon 
warriors when about to enjoy a triumph, for them to conse- 
crate in the temples : after which it became the custom to 
present them at our games. It would be a lengthy matter, 
and, indeed, foreign to the purpose of this work, to enter upon 
a discussion who was the first Roman that received each kind 
of crown ; in fact, they were acquainted with none but such as 
were given as the reward of military prowess. It is a well- 
known fact, however, that this people has more varieties of 
crowns than those of all other nations put together. 


Romulus presented Hostus Hostilius 30 with a crown of leaves, 
for being the first to enter Fidense. This Hostus was the 
grandfather of King Tullus Hostilius. P. Decius the elder, 
the military tribune, was presented with a crown of leaves by 
the army which had been saved by his valour, under the com- 
mand of Cornelius Cossus, 31 the consul, in the war with the 
Samnites. This crown was made at first of the leaves of the 
holm oak, but afterwards those of the sesculus 32 were pre- 
ferred, as being a tree sacred to Jupiter : this, however, was 
soon employed indifferently with the quercus, according as 

26 II. xiii, 736. 

27 See cc. 34 and 35 of the present Book. 

28 The Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemeean games. 

29 See B. vii. c. 27. 

30 He is called Tullus Hostilius by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the same 
as his grandson. 

31 a.u.c. 411. The leaves of the holm-oak were employed by Romulus 
on the occasion above-mentioned. 

33 These varieties of the oak will he considered in the next chapter. 

344 flint's NaTUEAL HISTORY. [Book XVI. 

each might happen to present itself, the honourable distinction 
given to the acorn being the only thing observed. Eigorous 
laws were, however, enacted, to maintain the lofty glories of 
this wreath, by which it was placed npon an equality even 
with the supreme honours of the wreath that is given by 
Greece in presence of Jove 33 himself, and to receive which the 
exulting city of the victor is wont to break 34 a passage through 
its very walls. These laws are to the effect that the life of a 
fellow-citizen must be preserved, and an enemy slain; that 
the spot where this takes place must have been held by the 
enemy that same day ; that the person saved shall admit the 
fact, other witnesses being of no use at all ; and that the person 
saved shall have been a Eoman citizen. 

To preserve an ally merely, even though it should be the 
life of a king that is so saved, confers no right to this high re- 
ward, nor is the honour at all increased, even if it is the 
Eoman general that has been thus preserved, it being the in- 
tention of the framers of the law that it should be the status 
of the citizen that is everything. When a man has received 
this wreath, it is his privilege to wear it for the rest of his 
life. When he makes his appearance at the celebration of the 
games, 35 it is customary for the Senate even to rise from their 
seats, and he has the right of taking his seat next to the senators. 
Exemption, too, from all civic duties is conferred upon him as 
well as his father and his father's father. Siccius Dentatus, as we 
have already mentioned 36 on an appropriate occasion, received 
fourteen civic crowns, and Manlius Capitolinus 37 six, 38 one, 
among the rest, for having saved the life of his general, Ser- 
vilius. Scipio Africanus declined to accept the civic crown 
for having saved the life of his father at the battle of Trebia. 
Times these, right worthy of our everlasting admiration, 
which accorded honour alone as the reward of exploits so 
mighty, and which, while other crowns were recommended by 
being made of gold, disdained to set a price upon the safety of 
a citizen, and loudly proclaimed thereby that it is unrighteous 
to save the life of a man for motives of lucre. 

33 At the Olympic games celebrated in honour of Jupiter. > At Olympia 
there was a statue of that god, one of the master-pieces of Phidias. 

34 Implying thereby, that the city that could produce a man who could 
so distinguish himself, stood in no need of walls. 

35 In the Circus. 36 In B. vii. c. 29. 

v B. vii. c. 29. ' 

38 Livy says eight. He saved the life of Servilms, the Master of the Horse. 



It is a well-known fact that acorns 39 at this very day con- 
stitute the wealth of many nations, and that, too^ even amid 
these times of peace. Sometimes, also, when there is a scarcity 
of corn they are dried and ground, the meal heing employed 
for making a kind of bread. Even to this very day, in the 
provinces of Spain, 40 we find the acorn introduced at table in 
the second course : it is thought to be sweeter when roasted 
in the ashes. By the law of the Twelve Tables, there is a 
provision made that it shall be lawful for a man to gather his 
acorns when they have fallen upon the land of another. 

The varieties of the glandiferous trees are numerous, and 
they are found to diner in fruit, locality, sex, and taste ; the 
acorn of the beech having one shape, that of the quercus 
another, and that, again, of the holm-oak another. The various 
species also, among themselves, offer a considerable number of 
varieties. In addition to this, some of these trees are of a 
wild nature, while the fruits of others are of a less acrid 
flavour, owing to a more careful cultivation. Then, too, there 
is a difference between the varieties which grow on the moun- 
tains and those of the plains; the males differ from the 
females, and there are considerable modifications in the flavour 
of their fruit. That of the beech 41 is the sweetest of all ; so 
much so, that, according to Cornelius Alexander, the people of 
the city of Chios, when besieged, supported themselves wholly 
on mast. The different varieties cannot possibly be distin- 
guished by their respective names, which vary according to 

39 " Glandes." Under this name, for which we do not appear to have any- 
English equivalent, were included, as already mentioned, not only the 
acorn of the oak, hut the nut or mast of the beech, and probably most of 
the hard or kernel fruits. In the present instance Pliny probably alludes 
only to the fruit of the oak and the beech. Acorns are but little used as 
an article of food in these days. Roasted, they have been proposed as a 
substitute for coffee. 

40 The acorn of the Quercus ballota of Linnseus is probably meant, which 
is still much used in the province of Salamanca, and forms an agreeable 
article of food. This acorn, Fee says, contains a considerable proportion 
of saccharine matter, and' is better roasted in the ashes than boiled in water. 
It is not, however, used as a dessert, as in the time of the Romans. These 
acorns are sold at market in Andalusia in the month of October. 

41 So far as it goes, the kernel of the mast or beech-nut is not unpa- 
latable ; but in the English beech it is very diminutive. 

346 plint's NATURAL HISTOEY. [Book XVI. 

their several localities. The quercus 43 and the robur 43 we 
see growing everywhere, but not so with the resculus ; 44 while 
a fourth kind, known as the eerrus, 45 is not so much as known 
throughout the greater part of Italy. "We shall distinguish 
them, therefore, by their characteristic features, and when 
circumstances render it necessary, shall give their Greek names 
as well. 

CHAP. 7. (6.) — THE BEECH. 

The acorn of the beech 46 is similar in appearance to a kernel, 
enclosed in a shell of triangular shape. The leaf is thin and 
one of the very lightest, is similar in appearance to that of the 
poplar, and turns yellow with remarkable rapidity. From the 
middle of the leaf, and upon the upper side of it, there mostly 
shoots a little green berry, with a pointed top. 47 The beech is 
particularly agreeable to rats and mice ; and hence it is, that 
where this tree abounds, those creatures are sure to be plen- 
tiful also. The leaves are also very fattening for dormice, 
and good for thrushes too. Almost all trees bear an average 
crop but once in two years ; this is the case with the beech 
more particularly. 


The other trees that bear acorns, properly so called, are the 

42 The word u quercus " is frequently used as a general name for the 
oak ; but throughout the present Book it is most employed as meaning a 
distinct variety of the oak, one of the larger kinds, Fee says, and answering 
to the Quercus racemosa of Lamarck, the Quercus robur of Linnaeus, and 
the Rouvre of the French. 

43 This also has been much employed as a general name for the oak ; hut 
here, and in other parts of this Book, it is applied to one variety. Fee 
thinks that it answers to the Quercus sessiliflora of Smith, sometimes also 
called " rouvre" by the French. 

44 The Quercus eesculus of Linnaeus. It is not improbable that this oak 
is a different tree from the "iEsculus " of Horace and Virgil, which was 
perhaps either a walnut, or a variety of the beech. 

45 It has been suggested that this is the same with the Quercus eerrus of 
Linneous, and the Quercus crinita of Lamarck, the gland of which is placed 
in a prickly cupule. It is rarely found in France, but is often to be met 
with in Piedmont and the Apennines. 

46 The Fagus silvatica of Lamarck. Its Latin name, "fagus,"_is supposed 
to have been derived from the Greek 0ayu> ? " to eat." An oil is extracted 
from the acorns or nuts, that is much used in some parts of France. 

47 He speaks probably of one of the galls which are found attached to 
the leaves *of the forest trees. 

Chap. 8.] THE OTHER ACORNS. 347 

robur, the sesculus, the cerrus, the holm-oak, 48 and the cork- 
tree : 49 it is contained in a rivelled calyx, which embraces 
more or less of it, according to the several varieties. The 
leaves of these trees, those of the holm-oak excepted, are 
weighty, pulpy, long, and jagged at the edges, and they do 
not turn yellow before they fall, as with the beech : they are 
also longer or shorter, as the case may be. 

There are two kinds M of holm-oak : one of them, which 
belongs to Italy, has a leaf not very unlike that of the olive ; 
some of the Greeks give it the name of " milax," 51 and in our 
provinces it is known as the aquifolia. The acorn of these 
two kinds is shorter and more slender than in the others : 
Homer 52 calls it " acylos," and by that name distinguishes it 
from the ordinary acorn : it is generally said that the male 
tree of the holm-oak bears no fruit. 

The best acorn, and the very largest, is that which grows 
upon the quercus, and the next to it is the fruit of the aescu- 
lus : that of the robur, again, is diminutive, and the fruit of 
the cerrus has a meagre, wretched look, being enclosed in a 
calyx covered with prickles, like the outer coat of the ches- 
nut. With reference to the acorn of the quercus, that which 
grows upon the female tree 53 is sweeter and more tender, 
while that of the male is more solid and compact. The acorn, 
however, of the latifolia 54 is the most esteemed, an oak so 

48 " Ilex." Fee thinks that the varieties known as the Prinos and the 
Ballota were often confounded by the ancients with the " ilex " or " holm- 
oak." This tree, he says, bears no resemblance to the ordinary oak, except 
in the blossoms and the fruit. It is the Ilex of Linnseus, the " yeuse," or 
" green oak," of the French. 

19 The Quercus suber of Linnseus ; it is found more particularly in the 
department of the Landes in France. 

50 As Fee remarks, Pliny is clearly in error here ; one kind being the 
veritable ilex or holm oak, the other, the aquifolium or holly, quite a dif- 
ferent tree. 

61 The smilax or milax wasareal holm oak,but the aquifolia was the holly. 

62 Od. xi. 242. Fee remarks that the berry of the holly has no resem- 
blance to the acorn whatever, and he says that this statement of Pliny al- 
most leads him to think that the second variety here mentioned by him was 
not in reality the holly, but a variety of the quercus. 

63 Fee observes that, properly speaking, there is no sex in the oak, the 
individuals being neither male nor female. The Flora Danica however, as 
he observes, gives the name of " Quercus fcemina" to the Quercus racemosa 
of Lamarck. 

5* Or "broad-leaved" oak; one of the varieties of the Quercus sessili- 
flora of Smith — Flor. Brit. 

348 pliot's eatueal histoey. [Book XVI. 

called from the remarkable broadness of its leaves. The acorns 
differ also among themselves in size, and the comparative 
fineness of the outer shell ; as also in the circumstance that 
some have beneath the shell a rough coat of a rusty colour, 
while in others a white flesh immediately presents itself. 
Those, too, are more particularly esteemed, the two extre- 
mities of the nut of which, taken lengthwise, are as hard as a 
stone : and it is considered preferable that this peculiarity 
should present itself rather in the shell than in the flesh : in 
either case, however, it only exists in the fruit of the male tree. 
In some kinds, again, the acorn is oval, in others round ; 
while in others it is of a more pointed form. The colour, too, 
varies considerably, according as it is blacker or whiter ; this 
last being held in the highest esteem. The extremities of the 
acorn are bitter, but the flesh in the middle of it is sweet; 55 
another difference, too, consists in the comparative length or 
shortness of the stalk. 

As for the trees themselves, the one that bears the acorn of 
largest size is known as the "hemeris;" 66 a small tree with 
a thick bushy foliage all around it, and often hollowed at the 
place where the branch is joined to the trunk. The quercus 
has a stronger wood, and less susceptible of decay : this also is 
a very branchy tree, but is much taller than the last, while 
the trunk is considerably thicker. The tegilops, 57 however, is 
the highest of them all, and is much attached to wild, unculti- 
vated spots. Next to this in height is the latifolia, but its 
wood is far from being so useful either for building purposes 
or for charcoal. When rough-hewn it is very apt to spoil, 
hence it is that it is generally used in an unhewn state. As 
charcoal, it is considered only economical in smelting copper ; 
for the moment the workman ceases to blow, the fire dies out, 
and hence it requires to be repeatedly rekindled ; while at the 
same time it gives out great quantities of sparks. The best 

55 This statement is contrary to general experience in modern times, 
the flavour of the acorn being uniformly acrid and hitter throughout. It 
is not impossible, however, that the flavour may have been more palatable 
in ancient times. 

56 A variety of the common oak, the Quercus racemosa of Lamarck ; 
Sprengel takes it to bo the Quercus ballota of Desfontaines. 

57 The Quercus segilops of Linnaeus. It is a native of Piedmont, some 
parts of Italy, and the island of Crete. 

Chap. 8.] WOOD FOR FUEL. 349 

charcoal is that obtained from the wood of young trees. 58 
Square billets of wood, newly cut, are piled compactly together 
with clay, and built up in the form of a chimney ; the pile is 
then set fire to, and incisions are made in the coat of clay as it 
gradually hardens, by the aid of long poles, for the purpose of 
letting the moisture of the wood evaporate. 

The worst kind of all, however, both for timber and for 
making charcoal, is the oak known as the " haliphloeos," 59 the 
bark of which is remarkably thick, and the trunk of consider- 
able size, but mostly hollow and spongy : it is the only one 
of this species that rots while the tree is still alive. In 
addition to this, it is very frequently struck by lightning, 
although it is not so remarkably lofty in height: for this 
reason it is not considered lawful to employ its wood for the 
purposes of sacrifice. It is but rarely that it bears any acorns, 
and when it does they are bitter : no animal will touch them, 
with the sole exception of swine, and not even they, if they 
can get any other food. An additional reason also for its ex- 
clusion from all religious ceremonials, is the circumstance 
that the fire is very apt to go out in the middle of the 
sacrifice when the wood of it is used for fuel. 

The acorn of the beech, when given to swine, 60 makes them 
brisk and lively, and renders the flesh tender for cooking, and 
light and easy of digestion ; while, on the other hand, that of 
the holm oak has the effect of making them thin, pallid, 
meagre, and lumpish. The acorn of the quercus is of a broad 
shape, and is the heaviest as well as the sweetest of them 
all. According to Nigidius, the acorn of the cerrus occupies 
the next rank to this, and, indeed, there is no acorn that 
renders the flesh of swine more firm, though at the same time 
it is apt to impart a certain degree of hardness. The same 
author assures us also, that the acorn of the holm oak is a 
trying diet for swine, unless it is given in very small quan- 

58 Pliny's account of making charcoal is derived from Theophrastus, 
B. iii. c. 10. Fee remarks that it differs little from the method adopted in 
France at the present day. 

59 The Quercus Hispanica, probably, of Lamarck, of which Fee thinks 
the Quercus pseudo-suber of Desfontaines is a variety ; it is found in 
Greece and on the shores of the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar. The Greek 
name signifies the " sea cork- tree." 

60 The statement here given as to the effect of beech-mast on swine, is 
destitute, Fee remarks, of all foundation. If fed upon it, their flesh will 
naturally be of a soft, spongy nature. 

350 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XVI. 

tities at a time. He says, too, that this acorn is the last 
to fall, and that the flesh of swine, if fed upon the acorns 
of the Eesculus, the robur, or the cork-tree, will be of a 
spongy nature. 


All 61 the glandiferous trees produce the gall-nut as well : 
they only bear acorns, however, in alternate years. The gall- 
nut of the hemeris 62 is considered the choicest of all, and the 
best adapted for the preparation of leather : that of the lati- 
folia closely resembles it, but is somewhat lighter, and not by 
any means so highly approved. This last tree produces the 
black gall-nut also — for there are two varieties of it — this last 
being deemed preferable for dyeing wool. 

(7.) The gall-nut begins to grow just as the sun is leaving 
the sign of Gemini, 63 and always bursts forth in its entirety in a 
single night. 64 The white variety grows, too, in a single day, but 
if the heat happens to overtake it, it shrinks immediately, and 
never arrives at its proper size, which is about that of a bean. 
The black gall-nut will remain green for a longer period, and 
sometimes attains the size of an apple 65 even. The best kind is 
that which comes from Commagene, 66 and the most inferior 
are those produced by the robur : it may easily be tested by 
means of certain holes in it which admit of the passage of the 
light. 67 



The robur, in addition to its fruit, has a great number of 
other productions : it bears 68 the two varieties of the gall-nut, 

61 This assertion is perhaps too general ; gall-nuts are produced in very 
small quantities hy the holm-oak. 

62 A variety of the Quercus racemosa, which produces the green gall- 
nut of Aleppo, considered in modern, as in ancient, times the choicest in 

63 Theophrastus says the end of June._ 

64 Its growth, in reality, is not so rapid as this. 

65 Such a thing is never seen at the present day. 

es In Syria. We have mentioned the galls of Aleppo in Note 62. _ 
67 This is the case when the inside has heen eaten away hy the insect 
that hreeds there ; of course, in such case it is holloAv, light, and worthless, 
ea The ancients were not aware that the gall was produced from the eggs 

Chap. 11.] CACHETS. 351 

and a production which closely resembles the mulberry, 69 ex- 
cept that it differs from it in being dry and hard : for the most 
part it bears a resemblance to a bull's head, and in the inside 
there is a fruit very similar to the stone of the olive. Little 
balls 70 also are found growing on the robur, not unlike nuts in 
appearance, and containing within them a kind of soft wool, 
which is used for burning in lamps ; for it will keep burning 
without oil, which is the case also with the black gall-nut. 
It bears another kind, too, of little ball, covered with hair, 71 but 
used for no purpose : in spring, however, this contains a juice like 
honey. In the hollows formed by the union of the trunk and 
branches of this tree there are found also small round balls, 72 
which adhere bodily to the bark, and not by means of a stalk : 
at the point of junction they are white, but the rest of the 
body is spotted all over with black : inside they are of a scarlet 
colour, but on opening them they are found to be empty, and 
are of a bitter taste. 

Sometimes, too, the robur bears a kind of pumice, 73 as well 
as little balls, which are formed of the leaves rolled up ; upon 
the veins of the leaves, too, there are watery pustules, of a 
whitish hue, and transparent while they are soft ; in these a 
kind of gnat 74 is produced, and they come to maturity just in 
the same way that the ordinary gall-nut does. 

CHAP. 11. (8.) CACHETS. 

The robur bears cachrys, 75 too ; such being the name given 

of the cynips, deposited upon the leaf or bark of the tree. Tan and gallic 
acid are its principal component parts. 

_ 69 A substance quite unknown now ; but it is very doubtful if Pliny is 
rightly informed here. 

70 A fungous gall, produced by the Cynips fungosa. It is not used for 
any domestic purpose at the present day. 

7 * This kind of gall is now unknown. Fee questions the assertion about 
its juice. 

72 The Cynips quercus baccarum of Linnaeus, one of the common galls. 

13 The root cynips, the Cynips radicum of Fourcroi, produces these 
galls, which lie near the root, and have the appearance of ligneous nodo- 
sities. It is harder than wood, and contains cells, in which the larva of the 
insect lies coiled up. 

74 This is a proof, as Fee remarks, that the ancients had observed the 
existence of the cynips ; though, at the same time, it is equally evident 
that they did not know the important part it acts in the formation of the 

75 This word, as employed by Theophrastus, means a catkin, the Julus 

352 pliny's natueal histoet. [Book XVI. 

to a small round ball that is employed in medicine for its 
caustic properties. It grows on the fir likewise, the larch, 
the pitch-tree, the linden, the nut-tree, and the plane, and 
remains on the tree throughout the winter, after the leaves have 
fallen. It contains a kernel very similar to that of the pine- 
nut, and increases in size during the winter. In spring the 
ball opens throughout, and it finally drops when the leaves 
are beginning to grow. 

Such is the multiplicity of the products borne by the robur 
in addition to its acorns ; and not only these, but mushrooms' 6 
as well, of better or worse quality, the most recent stimulants 
that have been. discovered for the appetite ; these last are found 
growing about its roots. Those of the quercus are the most 
highly esteemed, while those of the robur, the cypress, and 
the pine are injurious. 77 The robur produces mistletoe 78 also, 
and, if we may believe Hesiod, 79 honey as well : indeed, it is 
a well-known feet, that a honey 80 -like dew falling from heaven, as 
we have already mentioned, 81 deposits itself upon the leaves of 
this tree in preference to those of any other. It is also well 
known that the wood of this tree, when burnt, produces a 
nitrous 82 ash. 

amentum of the botanists ; but it is doubtful if Pliny attaches this meaning 
to the word, as the lime or linden-tree has no catkin, but an inflorescence 
of a different character. It is not improbable that, under this name, he 
alludes to some excrescence. 

™ These were the " boletus' 7 and the " suillus ;" the last of which seem 
only to have been recently introduced at table in the time of Pliny. See 
tj xxii c* 47* 

"« He alludes clearly to fungi of radically different qualities, as the na- 
ture of the trees beneath which they grow cannot possibly influence them, 
any further than by the various proportions of shade they afford, lhe soil, 
however, exercises great influence on the quality of the fungus ; growing 
upon a hill, it may be innoxious, while in a wet soil it may be productive 
f death. 78 See cc. 93, 94, and 95, of this Book. 

79 Works and Days, 1. 230. 

80 Pliny seems to have here taken in a literal sense, what has been said 
figuratively by Virgil, Eel. iv. 1. 26 : 

u Et durte quercus sudabunt roscida mella ; 
and by Ovid, in relation to the Golden Age, Met. i. 113 :. 

" Flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella." 
Fee remarks, that we find on the leaf of the lime-tree a thin, sugary de- 
posit left by insects, and that a species of manna exudes from the Coniferae, 
as also the bark of the beech. This, however, is never the case with the 

oak 81 B - xi - c - 12 - • „ 

82 By this word, Fee observes, we must not understand the word " nitre, 

Ch;ip. 13.] AGARIC. 353 


The holm oak, however, by its scarlet berry 83 alone chal- 
lenges competition with all these manifold productions. This 
grain appears at first sight to be a roughness on the surface of 
the tree, as it were, a small kind of the aquifolia 84 variety 
of holm oak, known as the cusculium. 85 To the poor in Spain 
it furnishes 56 the means of paying one half of their tribute. 
We have already, when speaking 87 of the purple of the murex, 
mentioned the best methods adopted for using it. It is pro- 
duced also in Galatia, Africa, Pisidia, and Cilicia : the most 
inferior kind is that of Sardinia. 


It is in the Gallic provinces more particularly that the glan- 
diferous trees produce agaric ; 88 such being the name given to 
a white fungus which has a strong odour, and is very useful as 
an antidote. It grows upon the top of the tree, and gives 
out a brilliant light 69 at night : this, indeed, is the sign by 
Which its presence is known, and by the aid of this light it 
may be gathered during the night. The segilops is the only 
one among the glandiferous trees that bears a kind of dry 
cloth, 90 covered with a white mossy shag, and this, not only 
attached to the bark, but hanging down from the branches as 
well, a cubit even in length : this substance has a strong 

in the modern sense, but the sub-carbonate of potash ; while the ashes of 
trees growing on the shores of the sea produce a sub-carbonate of soda. 

83 " Coccus." This is not a gall, but the distended body of an insect, tbe 
kermes, which grows on a peculiar oak, the " Quercus coccifera," found in 
the south of Europe. 

84 We have previously mentioned, that he seems to have confounded the 
holly with the holm oak. 

85 Poinsinet, rather absurdly, as it would appear, finds in this word the 
origin of our word "cochineal." 

86 The kermes berry is but little used in Spain, or, indeed, anywhere else, 
since the discovery of the cochineal of America. 

87 B. ix. c. 65. 

88 Not the white agaric, Fee says, of modern pharmacy ; but, as no kind 
of agaric is found in the oak, it does not seem possible to identify it. See 
B. xxv. c. 57. 

89 It is evident that no fungus would give out phosphoric light ; but -it 
may have resulted from old wood in a state of decomposition. 

90 It is pretty clear that one of the lichens of the genus usnea is here 
referred to. Amadue, or German tinder, seems somewhat similar. 


354 pliny's natural history. [Book XVI. 

odour, as we have already 91 stated, when speaking of the 

The cork is but a very small tree, and its acorn is of the 
very worst 92 quality, and rarely to be found as well: the 
bark 93 is its only useful product, being remarkably thick, and 
if removed it will grow again. When straitened out, it has 
been known to form planks as much as ten feet square. This 
substance is employed more particularly attached as a buoy 
to the ropes 94 of ships' anchors and the drag-nets of fishermen. 
It is employed also for the bungs of casks and as a material 
for the winter shoes 95 of females ; for which reason the Greeks 
not inappropriately call them 96 " the bark of a tree." 

There are some writers who speak of it as the female of the 
holm oak; and in the countries where the holm does not 
grow, they substitute for it the wood of the cork-tree^ more 
particularly in cartwrights' work, in the vicinity of Elis and 
LacedaBinon for instance. The cork-tree does not grow through- 
out the whole of Italy, and in no 97 part whatever of Gaul. 


The bark also of the beech, the lime, the fir, and the pitch- 
tree is extensively used by the peasantry. Panniers and 
baskets are made of it, as also the large flat hampers which 
are employed for the carriage of corn and grapes : roofs of 

91 B. xii. c. 50. 

92 On the contrary, Fee says, tlie acorn of the Quercus suber is of a sweet 
and agreeable flavour, and is'much sought as a food for pigs. The hams 
of Bayonne are said to owe their high reputation to the acorns of the cork- 

93 The word " cork" is clearly derived from the Latin " cortex," " bark " 
See Beckmann's History of Inventions, V. i.p. 320, et scq., Bohris Edition, 
for a very interesting account of this tree. 

u This passage, the meaning of which is so obvious, is discussed at some 
length by Beckmann, Vol. i. pp. 321, 322. 

95 It is still employed for making soles which are impervious to the wet. 

96 It is doubtful whether this name was given to the shoes, or the fe- 
males who wore them, and we have therefore preserved the doubt, in the 
ambiguous " them." Beckmann also discusses this passage, p. 321. He 
informs us, p. 322, that the E,oman ladies who wished to appear taller than 
they really were, were in the habit of putting plenty of cork under their 

97 At the present day, it grows in the greatest abundance hi France, tbe 
Landes more particularly. 

Chap. 16.] THE PINE. 355 

cottages, 98 too, are made of this material. "When a spy has 
been sent out he often leaves information for his general, 
written upon fresh bark, by cutting letters in the parts of it 
that are the most juicy. The bark of the beech is also em- 
ployed for religious purposes in certain sacred rites." This 
tree, however, when deprived of its bark, will not survive. 

CHAP. 15. (10.) — SHINGLES. 

The best shingles are those made of the wood of the robur ; 
the next best being those furnished by the other glandiferous 
trees and the beech. Those most easily made are cut from, 
the wood of the resinous trees, but they do not last, 1 
with the exception of those made of pine. Cornelius 
Nepos informs us, that Rome was roofed solely with shingles 
down to the time of the war with Pyrrhus, a period of four 
hundred and seventy years. It is well known that it was 
remarkable for the fine forests in its vicinity. Even at the 
present day, the name of Jupiter Fagutalus points out in 
what locality there stood a grove of beeches ; 2 the Querque- 
tulan Gate shows where the quercus once stood, and the Vi- 
minal Hill is the spot where the " vimen" 3 was sought in 
ancient times. In many other parts, too, there were groves 
to be found, and sometimes as many as two. Q. Hortensius, 
the Dictator, on the secession of the plebeians to the Jani- 
culum, passed a law in the JEsculetum/ that what the ple- 
beians had enacted should be binding upon every lioman 
citizen. 5 


In those days they regarded as exotics, because they did not 
exist in the vicinity 6 of the City, the pine and the fir, as well 
as all the other varieties that produce pitch ; of which we shall 
now proceed to speak, in order that the method of seasoning 

98 This is still the case in some of the poorer provinces of Spain. 

59 As Fee remarks, Mars is no longer the Divinity in honour of whom 
characters are traced on the bark of trees. 

1 On the contrary. Fee says, the resinous woods are the most proof of 
all against the action of the air. 

- Festus says that the Fagutal, a shrine of Jupiter, was so called from 
a beech tree (fagus) that stood there, and was sacred to that god. 

3 Or osier. 

4 Or " plantation of the sesculus." 5 3G7. 
6 Fee regards this as an extremely doubtful assertion. 

A A 2 

356 flint's NATUBAL HISTORY. [Book XVI. 

wine, from the very first, may be fully known. "Whereas 
there are several among the trees already mentioned in Asia 
or the East, that produce pitch, in Europe there are but 
six varieties of kindred trees that supply it. In this number 
there are the pine 7 and the pinaster, 8 which have long thin 
leaves like hair, and pointed at the end. The pine yields the 
least resin of them all : in the pine nut, indeed, of which we 
have previously spoken, 9 it is sometimes to be found, but 
hardly in sufficient quantities to warrant us in reckoning the 
pine among the resinous trees. 


The pinaster is nothing else but a wild pine : it rises to a 
surprising height, and throws out branches from the middle, 
just as the pine does from the top. This tree yields a more 
copious supply of resin than the pine : the mode in which this 
is done we shall set forth 10 on a future occasion. It grows 
also in flat countries. Many people think that this is the 
same tree that grows along the shores of Italy, and is known 
as the " tibulus ;" u but this last is slender, and more com- 
pact than the pine ; it is likewise free from knots, and hence 
is used in the construction of light gallies ; 12 they are both almost 
entirely destitute of resin. 

chap. 18. — the pitch-tree: the pie. 
The pitch-tree 13 loves the mountain heights and cold loca- 
lities. This is a funereal tree, and, as an emblem of death, is 
placed before the door of the deceased, and is left to grow in 
the vicinity of the funeral pile. Still, however, it is now 
some time since it was admitted into our gardens, in conse- 
quence of the facility with which it is clipped into various 
shapes. It gives out considerable quantities of resin, 14 which 

7 The Pinus pinea of Linnaeus, the cultivated pine. 
§ The Pinus silvestris of Linnaeus, the wild pine; the Pinus maritima of 
Lamarck is a variety of it. 
p B. xv. c. 9. 10 Ln c. 23 of this Book. 

11 A variety of the Pinus silvestris of Linnaeus. 

12 " Liburnicae." See B. ix. cc. 5 and 48. 

13 The Abies excelsa of Decandolle— the Pesse or Faux sapin (false fir) 
of the French. This tree, however, has not the pectinated, or comb-like 
leaf, mentioned by Plinv in c. 38. . , . m ' ' 

" It is still known in commerce as " false incense ; and is otten sola 

Chap. U.] THE LAECH. 357 

is intermingled with white granulations like pearls, and so 
similar in appearance to frankincense, that when mixed, it is 
impossible to distinguish them ; hence the adulterations we 
find practised in the Seplasia. 15 All this class of trees have a 
short bristly leaf, thick and hard, like that of the cypress. 
The branches of the pitch-tree are of moderate size, and ex- 
tend from almost the very root of the tree, adhering to the 
sides like so many arms : the same is the case with the fir, 16 
the wood of which is held in great esteem for ship-building. 

This tree grows upon the summits of lofty mountains, as 
though, in fact, it had an antipathy to the sea, and it does not 
at all diifer from the pitch-tree in appearance : the wood is 
also very highly esteemed for the construction of rafters, and 
many other appliances of life. A flow of resin, which in the 
pitch-tree constitutes its great merit, is looked upon as a 
defect in the fir, 17 though it will generally exude in some 
small quantity on exposure of the wood, to the action of the 
sun. On the other hand, the wood which in the fir-tree is 
remarkably fine, in the pitch-tree is only used for making 
shingles, vats, and a few other articles of joiners' work. 


The fifth kind of resinous tree has the same localities, and 
is very similar in appearance ; it is known as the larch. 13 The 
wood of this tree is far more valuable, being unimpaired by 
time, and proof against all decay ; it is of a reddish colour, 
and of an acrid smell. Besin 19 flows from this wood in still 
greater quantities ; it is of the colour of honey, more viscous 
than the other varieties, and never turns hard. 

as incense for the rites of the Roman church : while sometimes it is pur- 
posely employed, as being cheaper. 

15 A great street in Capua, which consisted entirely of the shops of sellers 
of unguents and perfumes. 

16 It has the same pyramidal form as the pitch-tree. It is still much 
used in ship-buildiug, both for its resinous and durable qualities and the 
lightness of the wood. 

17 The presence of resin is not looked upon as any defect in the fir at the 
present day. It produces what is known in commerce as " Strasbourg tur- 

1S The Abies larix of Linnaeus, and the Larix Europrea, it is thought, 
of Decandolles. 

; 19 It is the Venice turpentine of commerce. Each tree will furnish seren 
or eight pounds each year for half a century. 

358 pliny's natural ihstory. [Book XYI. 

A sixth variety is the torch-tree, 20 properly so called, 
which gives out more resin than any of the others, with the 
exception of the pitch-tree ; but its resin is more liquid than 
that of this last. The wood, too, of this tree is more particu- 
larly employed for kindling fires and giving torch-light in 
religious ceremonials. Of this tree it is the male only that 
bears what is known to the Greeks by the name of " syce," 21 
remarkable for its extremely powerful odour. When the 
larch 22 is changed into the torch-tree, it is a proof that it is in 
a diseased state. 

The wood of all these trees, when set fire to, gives out im- 
moderate volumes of sooty smoke, 23 and sputters every now and 
then with a sudden crackling noise, while it sends out red- 
hot charcoal to a considerable distance — with the sole exception 
of that of the larch, which will neither burn 24 nor char, nor, in 
fact, suffer any more from the action of fire than a stone. All 
these trees are evergreens, and are not easily 25 distinguished 
by the foliage, even by those who are best acquainted with 
them, so nearly related are they to one another. The pitch- 
tree, however, is not so high as the larch ; which, again, is 
stouter, and has a smoother back, with a more velvety leaf, 
more unctuous to the touch, thicker, and more soft and flexi- 
ble. 26 The pitch-tree, again, has a leaf more sparsely scattered 
and drier ; it is thinner also, and of a colder nature, rougher all 
over in appearance, and covered with a resinous deposit : the 
wood of this tree is most like that of the fir. The larch, when 

20 It is doubtful if the tseda, or torch-tree, has been identified. Some 
take it to be the Pinus mugho of Miller, the torch-pine of the French ; 
others, again, suggest that it is the same as the Finus cembro of the bo- 

21 So called from its resemblance to a fig. Fee says that there is little 
doubt that this pretended fruit was merely a resinous secretion, which 
hardens and assumes the form of a fig. 

22 He somewhat mistranslates a passage of Theophrastus here, _ who, 
without transforming the larch into another tree, says that it is a sign of 
disease in the larch, when its secretions are augmented to such a degree 
that it seems to turn itself into resin. 

23 The lamp-black of commerce is made from the soot of the pine. 

24 This statement, though supported by that of Vitruvius, B. ii. c. 9, is 
quite erroneous. The wood of the larch gives out more heat than that of 
the fir, and produces more live coal in proportion. 

25 This, Fee remarks, is the fact. 

36 This description is inexact, and we should have some difficulty in 
recognizing here the larch as known to us. 

Chap. 19.] THE LARCH. 359 

the roots are once burnt, will not throw out fresh shoots, 
which the pitch-tree will do, as was found to be the case in the 
island of Lesbos, after the Pyrrhaean grove had been burnt 

In the same species too, the variety of sex- 7 is found to con- 
stitute a considerable difference : the male is the shorter tree, 
and has a harder wood ; while the female is taller, and bears a 
leaf more unctuous to the feel, smooth and free from all 
rigidity. The wood of the male tree is hard and awry, and 
consequently not so well suited for carpenters' work ; while 
that of the female is softer, as may be very easily perceived on 
the application of the axe, a test, in fact, which, in every 
variety, immediately shows us which trees are males ; the axe 
in such case meeting with a greater resistance, falling with 
a louder noise, and being withdrawn from the wood with con- 
siderably greater difficulty : the wood of the male tree is more 
parched too, and the root is of a blacker hue. In the vicinity of 
Mount Ida, in Troas, the circumstance whether the tree grows 
in the mountain districts or on the sea-shore, makes another 
considerable difference. In Macedonia and Arcadia, and in the 
neighbourhood of Elis, the names of the several varieties have 
been totally altered, and it has not been agreed by authors 
which name ought to be given to each : we have, therefore, 
contented ourselves with employing the Roman denominations 

The fir is the largest of them all, the female being the taller 
of the two ; the wood, too, is softer and more easily worked. 
This tree is of a rounder form than the others, and its leaves 
are closely packed and feathered, so as not to admit of the 
passage of rain ; the appearance, too, of the tree is altogether 
more cheerful, From the branches of these different varieties, 
with the sole exception of the larch, 28 there hang numbers of 
scaly nuts of compact shape, like so many catkins. The nuts 
found upon the male fir have a kernel in the fore-part, which is 

27 Pliny is in error here, there being no distinction of sex in the coni- 
ferous trees. All that he relates relative to the differences between the 
male and female pine is consequently false. He has, however, in this in- 
stance, only perpetuated an erroneous opinion of Theophrastus. 

28 This is an erroneous statement. The larch has its cone, as well as 
the rest. It is possible, however, that its small size may have caused it to 
be overlooked by Pliny. 

360 pliny's natueal history. [Book XVI. 

not the case with those on the female tree. In the pitch-tree, 
again, these kernels, which are very small and black, occupy 
the whole of the catkin, which is smaller and more slender 
than in the other varieties ; hence it is that the Greeks call 
this tree by the name of phthirophoron. 29 In this tree, too, the 
nuts on the male are more compressed, and less moist with 

CHAP. 20. — THE TEW, 

Not to omit any one of them, the yew zo is similar to these 
other trees in general appearance. It is of a colour, however, 
but slightly approaching to green, and of a slender form ; of 
sombre and ominous aspect, and quite destitute of juice : it is 
the only one, too, among them all, that bears a berry. In the 
male tree the fruit is injurious ; indeed, in Spain more particu- 
larly, the berries contain a deadly poison. 31 It is an ascertained 
fact that travellers' vessels, 32 made in Gaul of this wood, for the 
purpose of holding wine, have caused the death of those who 
used them. Sextius says, that in Greece this tree is known by 
the name of " smilax," and that in Arcadia it is possessed of so 
active a poison, that those who sleep beneath it, or even take 
food 33 there, are sure to meet their death from it. There are 
authors, also, who assert that the poisons which we call at 
the present day " toxica," and in which arrows are dipped, 
were formerly called taxica, 34 from this tree. It has been 
discovered, also, that these poisonous qualities are quite neu- 
tralized by driving a copper nail into the wood of the tree. 

29 Or "louse-bearing." As Fee says, it is difficult to see the analogy. 

30 The Taxus baccata of Linnaeus. The account here given is in general 
very correct. 

31 It is supposed that Pliny derives this notion as to the yew berry from 
Julius Caesar, who says that " Cativulcus killed himself with the yew, a 
tree which grows in great abundance in Gaul and Germany." It is, how- 
ever, now known that the berry is quite innocuous ; but the leaves and 
shoots are destructive of animal life. 

32 " Viatoria;" probably not unlike our travelling flasks and pocket-pis- 
tols. This statement made by Pliny is not at all improbable. 

33 This statement does not deserve a serious contradiction. 

34 It is not improbable, however, that ro^ov, an "arrow," is of older 
date than " taxus," as signifying the name of the yew. 




In Europe, tar is extracted from the torch-tree 33 by the 
agency of fire ; it is employed for coating ships and for many 
other useful purposes. 36 The wood of the tree is chopped"" 
into small billets, and then put into a furnace, which is heated 
by fires lighted on every side. The first steam that exudes 
flows in the form of water into a reservoir made for its recep- 
tion : in Syria this substance is known as "cedrium;" 38 and 
it possesses such remarkable strength, that in Egypt the bodies 
of the dead, after being steeped in it, are preserved from all 
corruption. 39 


The liquid that follows is of a thicker consistency, and con- 
stitutes pitch, properly so called. This liquid, thrown again 
into a brazen cauldron, and mixed with vinegar, becomes still 40 
thicker, and when left to coagulate, receives the name of 
" Bruttian" 41 pitch. It is used, however, only for pitching the 
insides of dolia 42 and other vessels, it differing from the other 
kinds in being more viscous, of a redder colour, and more 
unctuous than is usually the case. All these varieties of pitch 
are prepared from the pitch-tree, by putting red-hot stones, 
with the resinous wood, in troughs made of strong oak ; or 
if these troughs are not attainable, by piling up billets of the 

35 Numerous varieties of the coniferae supply us with tar, aud Pliny is 
in error in deriving it solely from the torch-tree, the Pinus mugho of Lin- 
naeus. 36 See B. xxiv. c. 23. 

37 It is still ohtained in a similar way. 

38 Fee remarks, that Pliny is in error here ; this red, watery fluid formed 
in the extraction of tars, being quite a different thing from " cedvium," the 
alkitran or kit ran of the Arabs ; which is not improbably made from a 
cedar, or perhaps the Juniperus Phcenicea, called "Cedrus" by the two 
Bauhins and Tournefort. He says that it is not likely that the Egyptians 
would use this red substance for the purpose of preserving the dead, charged 
as it is with empyreumatic oil, and destitute of all properties peculiar to 
resins. 39 See B. xxi. c. 3, and B. xxiv. c. 23.. 

40 This is impracticable ; neither vinegar, wine, nor water, will mingle 
with pitch. These resins, however, if stirred up briskly in hot water, be- 
come of a paler colour, and acquire an additional suppleness. 

41 Perhaps so called from Calabria, a country where the pine abounded, 
and part of which was called Bruttium, 

42 Or wine-vats. 


wood in the method employed for the manufacture of char- 
coal. 43 It is this pitch that is used for seasoning wine, being 
first pounded and reduced to a fine powder : it is of a blacker 
colour, too, than the other sort. The same resin, if boiled gently 
with water, and then strained off, becomes viscous, and assumes 
a red colour; it is then known as "distilled 44 pitch:" for 
making this, the refuse portions of the resin and the bark of 
the tree are generally selected. 

Another method is adopted for the manufacture of that used 
as crapula. 45 Raw flower of resin is taken, direct from the 
tree, with a plentiful sprinkling of small, thin chips of the 
wood. These are then pounded 46 down and passed through a 
sieve, after which they are steeped in water, which is heated 
till it comes to a boil. The unctuous portion that is extracted 
from this is the best resin : it is but rarely to be met with, 
and then only in a few places in Italy, in the vicinity of the 
Alps: it is in considerable request for medicinal purposes. 
For this, they generally boil a congius of white resin to two 
congii of rain-water : 47 some persons, however, think it better 48 
to boil it without water for one whole day by a slow fire, 
taking care to use a vessel of white copper. 49 Some, again, 
are in the habit of boiling the resin of the terebinth 50 in a flat 
pan 51 placed upon hot ashes, and prefer it to any other kind. 
The resin of the mastich 52 is held in the next degree of esti- 
mation. 63 

43 See c. 8 of the present Book. 

44 Stillaticia. 45 See B. xiv. c. 25. 

46 This operation removes from the pitch a great portion of its essential 
oil, and disengages it of any extraneous bodies that may have been mixed 
with it. 

47 Fee remarks that there is no necessity for this selection, though no 
doubt rain-water is superior to spring or cistern water, for some purposes, 
from its holding no terreous salts in solution. 

48 This would colour the resin more strongly, Fee says, and give it a 
greater degree of friability. 

49 See B. xxxiv. c. 20. 50 See B. xiv. c. 25, and B. xxiv. c. 22. 
51 " Sartago." Generally understood to be the same as our frying-pan. 

Fee remarks that this method would most inevitably cause the mass in 
fusion to ignite ; and should such not be the case, a coloured resin would 
be the result, coloured with a large quantity of carbon, and destitute of all 
the essential oil that the resin originally contained. 

« See B. xiv. c. 20. 

53 The terebinthine of the mastich, Fee says, is an oleo-resin, or in 
other words, composed of an essential oil and a resin. 

Chap. 23.] HOW RESItf IS PREPARED. 363 


We must not omit, too, that the Greeks call by the name of 
zopissa 54 the pitch mixed with wax which has been scraped 
from off the bottoms of sea-going ships ; 55 for there is nothing, 
in fact, that has been left untried by mankind. This composi- 
tion is found much more efficient for all those purposes in 
which pitch and resin are employed, in consequence of the 
superior hardness which has been imparted to it by the sea- 

The pitch-tree is opened 56 on the side that faces the sun, 
not by means of an incision, but of a wound made by the re- 
moval of the bark : this opening being generally two feet in 
width and one cubit from the ground, at the very least, The 
body of the tree, too, is not spared in this instance, as in others, 
for even the very chips from off it are considered as having 
their use ; those, however, from the lower part of the tree are 
looked upon as the best, the wood of the higher parts giving 
the resin a bitter 57 taste. In a short time all the resinous 
juices of the entire tree come to a point of confluence in the 
wound so inflicted : the same process is adopted also with the 
torch-tree. When the liquid ceases to flow, the tree is opened 
in a similar manner in some other part, and then, again, else- 
where : after which the whole tree is cut down, and the pith 58 
of it is used for burning. 59 

So, too, in Syria they take the bark from off the terebinth ; 
and, indeed, in those parts they do not spare even the root or 
branches, although in general the resin obtained from those 
parts is held in disesteem. In Macedonia they subject the 
whole of the male larch to the action of fire, but of the female 60 

54 Apparently meaning "boiled pitch." 

55 See B. xxiv. c. 26. 

56 This account has been borrowed from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B ix. 
c. ii. The modern method of extracting the resin of the pine is very 
similar. 57 There is no foundation whatever for this statement. 

58 The pith of the pine cannot be separated from the wood, and, indeed, 
is not easily distinguished from it. Fee says that in some of these trees 
masses of resin are found in the cavities which run longitudinally with the 
fibres, and queries whether this may not be the ''marrow" or "pith" of 
the tree mentioned by Pliny. 59 As a torch or candle, probably. 

60 This division of the larch into sexes, as previously mentioned, is only 
fanciful, and has no foundation in fact. The result of this operation, Fee 
says, would be only a sort of tar. 

3fi 1 pliny's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XV r. 

onty the roots. Theopompus has stated in his writings that in 
the territory of the Apolloniates there is found a kind of mineral 
pitch, 61 not inferior to that of Macedonia. The best pitch 03 
everywhere is that obtained from trees planted on sunny spots 
with a north-east aspect ; while that which is produced from 
more shaded localities has a disagreeable look and a repulsive 
odour. Pitch, too, that is produced amid the cold of winter is 
of inferior quality, being in smaller quantity, too, and compara- 
tively colourless. Some persons are of opinion that in moun- 
tainous localities this liquid is produced in the greatest abun- 
dance, and that it is of superior colour and of a sweeter taste 
and has a finer smell so long as it remains in a state of resin ; 
but that when, on the other hand, it is subjected to boiling, it 
yields a smaller quantity of pitch, because so much of it goes 63 
off in a serous shape. They say that the resinous trees, too, 
that grow on mountains are thinner than those that are found 
on plains, but that they are apt, both of them, to be unpro- 
ductive in clear, dry weather. 

Some trees, too, afford a flow of resinous juice the year after 
the incision is made, some, again, in the second year, and 
others in the third. The wound so made is filled with resin, 
but not with bark, or by the cicatrization of the outer coat ; 
for the bark in this tree never unites. Among these varie- 
ties some authors have made the sappium 64 to constitute a 
peculiar kind, because it is produced from the seed of a kin- 
dred variety, as we have already stated when speaking of the 
nuts 65 of trees ; and they have given the name of tseda 66 to 
the lower parts of the tree ; although in reality this tree is no- 
thing else but a pitch-tree, which by careful cultivation has 
lost some small portion of its wild character. The name 
"sappinus" is also given to the timber of these trees when 
cut, as we shall have occasion to mention 67 hereafter. 

61 See B. xxxv. c. 51. He alludes to the bitumen known as asphalt, 
bitumen of Judsea, mineral pitch, mountain pitch, malthe, pissalphate. 

62 These particulars, borrowed from Theophrastus, are in general correct. 

63 This is not the fact ; the essential oil in which the resin so greatly 
abounds, becomes volatile with remarkable facility. 

* 4 Most probably one of the varieties of the pine ; but the mode in which 
Pliny expresses himself renders it impossible to identify it with any 
precision. 65 B. xv. c. 9. 

66 The name borne also by the torch-tree. 

67 See c. 76 cf this Book." 




It is for the sake of their timber that Nature has created the 
other trees, and more particularly the ash, 68 whieh yields it in 
greater abundance. This is a tall, tapering tree, with a 
feather-like leaf: it has been greatly ennobled by the enco- 
miums of Homer, and the fact that it formed the spear of 
Achilles : 69 the wood of it is employed for numerous purposes. 
The ash which grows upon Mount Ida, in Troas, is so ex- 
tremely like the cedar, 70 that, when the bark is removed, it 
will deceive a purchaser. 

The Greeks have distinguished two varieties of this tree, 

the one long and without knots, the other short, with a harder 

wood, of a darker colour, and a leaf like that of the laurel. 

In Macedonia they give the name of "bumelia" 71 to an ash 

>f remarkably large size, with a wood of extreme flexibility. 

iome authors have divided this tree into several varieties, ac- 

ording to the localities which it inhabits, and say that the 

sh of the plains has a spotted wood, while that of the moun- 

ain ash is more compact. Some Greek writers have stated 

hat the leaf of the ash is poisonous 72 to beasts of burden, but 

harmless to all the animals that ruminate. 73 The leaves of 

his tree in Italy, however, are not injurious to beasts of bur- 

len even ; so far from it, in fact, that nothing has been found 

o act as so good a specific for the bites of serpents 74 as to drink 

he juice extracted from the leaves, and to apply them to the 

wounds. So great, too, are the virtues of this tree, that no 

serpent will ever lie in the shadow thrown by it, either in the 

68 He does not speak in this place of the " ornus " or " mountain ash ;" 
nor, as Fee observes, does he mention the use of the bark of the ash as a 
ebrifuge, or of its leaves as a purgative. This ash is the Fraxinus ex- 
. elsior of Decandolles. 69 II. xxlv. 277. 

70 Pliny makes a mistake here, in copying from Theophrastus, who says 
that it is the yew that bears so strong a resemblance to the cedar. 

71 Or "bull's-ash." This variety does not seem to have been identified. 

72 This statement results from his misinterpretation of the language of 
Theophrastus, who is really speaking of the yew, which Pliny mistakes 

>r the ash. 

73 Miller asserts that, if given to cows, this leaf will impart a bad flavour 
to the milk ; a statement which; Fee says, is quite incorrect. 

74 A merely fanciful notion, without apparently the slightest foundation : 
the same, too, may be said of the alleged antipathy of the serpent to the 
beech-tree, which is neither venomous nor odoriferous. 


morning or the evening, be it ever so long ; indeed, they will 
always keep at the greatest possible distance from it. We 
state the fact from ocular demonstration, 75 that if a serpent 
and a lighted fire are placed within a circle formed of the leaves 
of the ash, the reptile will rather throw itself into the fire than 
encounter the leaves of the tree. By a wonderful provision 
of Nature, the ash has been made to blossom before the ser- 
pents leave their holes, and the fall of its leaf does not take 
place till after they have retired for the winter. 


In the linden- tree the male 76 and the female are totally dif- 
ferent. In the male the wood is hard and knotty, of a redder 
hue, and with a stronger smell ; the bark, too, is thicker, and, 
when taken off, has no flexibility. The male bears neither 
seed nor blossom as the female does, the trunk of which is 
thicker, and the wood white and of excellent quality. It is a 
singular 77 thing, but no animal will touch the fruit of this 
tree, although the juice of the leaves and the bark is sweet. 
Between the bark and the wood there are a number of thin 
coats, formed by the union of numerous fine membranes ; of 
these they make those bands 78 which are known to us as "tiliae." 
The finer membranes are called "philyraB," and are rendered 
famous by the honourable mention that the ancients have 
made of them as ribbons for wreaths 79 and garlands. The 

75 This story of Pliny has been corroborated by M. de Verone, and as 
strongly contradicted by Caraerarius and Charras : with M. Fee, then, we 
must leave it to the reader to judge which is the most likely to be speaking 
the truth. It is not improbable that Pliny may have been imposed upon, 
as his credulity would not at all times preclude him from being duped. 

76 There is no such distinction in the linden or lime, as the flowers are 
hermaphroditical. They are merely two varieties : the male of Pliny being 
the Tilia microphylla of Pecaudolles, and a variety of the Tilia Europaea 
of Linnaeus ; and the female being the Tilia platyphyllos, another variety 
of the Tilia Europasa of Linnaeus. 

77 Not at all singular, Fee says, the fruit being dry and insipid. 

78 In France these cords are still made, and are used for well-ropes, 
wheat-sheafs, &c. In the north of France, too, brooms are made of the 
outer bark, and the same is the case in Westphalia. 

79 See B. xxi. c. 4. Ovid, Fasti, B. v. 1. 337, speaks of the revellers at 
drunken banquets bindiug their hair with the philyra. 


■wood of this tree is proof against the attacks of worms : 80 it is 
of moderate height 81 only, but of very considerable utility. 


The maple, which is pretty nearly of the same 82 size as the 
lime, is inferior to the citrus 83 only for the beauty of its wood 
when employed for cabinet work, and the exquisite finish it 
admits of. There are numerous varieties 84 of this tree; the 
light maple, remarkable for the extreme whiteness of its wood, 
is known as the " Gallic" &5 maple in Italy beyond the Padus, 
being a native of the countries beyond the Alps. Another 
kind is covered with wavy spots running in all directions. 
In consequence of its superior beauty it has received its name, 86 
from its strong resemblance to the marks which are seen in 
the tail of the peacock ; the finest kinds are those which grow 
in Istria and Rhsetia. An inferior sort of maple is known as 
" crassivenium." 87 

The Greeks distinguish the varieties according to their re- 
spective localities. The maple of the plains, S8 they say, is 
•white, and not w r avy; they give it the name of " glinon." 
On the other hand, the mountain maple, 89 they say, is of a 
more variegated appearance, and harder, the wood of the male 
tree being more particularly so, and the best adapted for spe- 

80 « Teredo." If he means under this name to include the tinea as 
well, the assertion is far too general, as this wood is eaten away by insects, 
though more slowly than the majority of the non-resinous woods. It is 
sometimes perforated quite through by the larvse of the byrrhus, our death- 

81 This is incorrect. It attains a very considerable height, and some- 
times an enormous size. The trunk is known to grow to as much as forty 
or fifty feet in circumference. 

82 The maple is much less in size than what the lime or linden really is. 

83 See B. xiii. c. 29. 

84 Fee says there are but five varieties of the maple known in France. 
He doubts whether the common maple, the Acer campestre of Linnaeus, 
was known to the ancients. 

85 Fee identifies it with the Acer pseudo-platanus of Linnaeus, the Acer 
montanum candidurn of C. Bauhin. This tree is not uncommon in Italy. 

86 " Acer pavonaceum :" " peacock maple." He gives a similar account 
of the spots on the wood of the citrus, B. xiii. c. 19. 

87 Or " thick-veined " maple. 

83 Supposed by Fee to be the Acer Monspessulanus of Linnaeus, also the 
Acer trilobum of Linnaeus. 

M A variety of the Acer pseudo-platanus of Linnaeus, according to Fee. 


cimens of elegant workmanship. A third kind, again, accord- 
ing to the Greeks, is the zygia, 90 with a red wood, which is 
easily split, and a pale, rough bark. Other authors, however, 
prefer to make of this last a peculiar species, and give it in 
Latin the name of " carpinus." 

chap. 27. (16.) — bruscum: molluscum; the staphylodexdron. 

But the most beautiful feature of all in the maple is what is 
known as bruscum, and, even more particularly so,^ the mol- 
luscum. These are both of them tuberosities of this tree, the 
bruscum presenting veins more violently contorted, while those 
of the mollusc um are disposed in a more simple and uniform 
manner : indeed, if this last were of sufficiently large size to 
admit of tables being made of it, there is no doubt that it 
would be preferred to the wood of the citrus even. At the 
present day, however, we find it but little used except for the 
leaves of tablets, or as a veneer for couches. 91 Tuberosities are 
also found on the alder, 92 but as much inferior to those already 
mentioned, as the alder itself is to the maple. In the maple 
the male tree 93 is the first to blossom. The trees that frequent 
dry spots are preferred to those that grow in watery localities, 
which is the case also with the ash. 

There is found in the countries beyond the Alps a tree, the 
wood of which is very similar to that of the white maple, and 
which is known as the staphylodendron. 94 This tree bears a 
pod 95 in which there is found a kernel, which has the flavour 
of the hazel-nut. 


One of the most highly esteemed of all the woods is the 
90 The Carpinus betulus of Linnams ; the horn-beam or yoke-elm. 
8 1 " Silicios." This word appears to be explained by the accompanying 
word " laminas ;" but it is very doubtful what is the correct reading. 

92 The Alnus glutinosa of Decandolles. In c. 38, Plinysays, very in- 
correctly, that the alder has a remarkably thick leaf; and in c. 45, with 
equal incorrectness, that it bears neither seed nor fruit. 

93 Fee observes, that it is incorrect to say that the male tree blossoms 
before the female, if such is Pliny's meaning here. 

9* From the Greek, meaning " a tree with clusters." It is the btapnylea 
pinnata of Linnteus, the wild or false pistachio of the French. 

95 " Siiiqua." This term, Fee says, is very inappropriate to the fruit of 
this tree, which is contained in a membranous capsule. The kernel is oily, 
and has the taste of the almond more than the nut. 


box, 96 but it is seldom veined, and then only the wood of the 
root. In other respects, it is a wood, so to say, of quiet and 
unpretending appearance, but highly esteemed for a certain 
degree of hardness and its pallid hue : the tree, too, is very 
extensively employed in ornamental gardening. 97 There are 
three 98 varieties of it: the Gallic 99 box, which is trained to 
shoot upwards in a pyramidal form, and attains a very consi- 
derable height; the oleaster, 1 which is condemned as being 
utterly worthless, and emits a disagreeable odour ; and a third, 
known as the " Italian" box, 2 a wild variety, in my opinion, 
which has been improved by cultivation. This last spreads 
more than the others, and forms a thick hedge : it is an ever- 
green, and is easily clipped. 

The box-tree abounds on the Pyrenean 3 range, the moun- 
tains of Cytorus, and the country about Berecynthus.* The 
trunk grows to the largest size in the island of Corsica, 5 and 
its blossom is by no means despicable ; it is this that causes 
the honey there to be bitter. 6 The seed of the box is held in 
aversion by all animals. That which grows upon Mount 
Olympus in Macedonia is not more slender than the other 
kinds, but the tree is of a more stunted growth. It loves 
spots exposed to the cold winds and the sun : in fire, too, it 
manifests all the hardness of iron ; it gives out no ilaine, and 
is of no use whatever for the manufacture of charcoal. 7 

96 The Buxus sempervirens of Linnaeus. 

97 It is still extensively used for a similar purpose. 

93 There are only two species now known : that previously mentioned, 
and the Buxus Balearica of Lamarck. The first is divided into the four 
varieties, arborescens, angustifolia, suffruticosa, and myrtifolia. 

99 The Buxus sempervirens of Linnaeus ; very common in the south of 
France, and on the banks of the Loire. 

5 It is doubtful if this is a box at all. The wild olive, mentioned in B. 
xv. c. 7, has the same name; all the varieties of the box emit a disagree- 
able smell. 

8 A variety of the Buxus sempervirens, the same as the Buxus suffruti- 
cosa of Lamarck. 

;< The Pyrenean box is mostly of the arborescent kind. 

4 In Phrygia. See B. v. c. 29. 

5 The arborescent variety. 

6 This is doubted by I ee, but it is by no means impossible. In Penn- 
sylvania the bees collect a'poisouous honey from the Kalmia latifolia. 

7 A very good charcoal might be made from it, but the wood is too 
valuable for such a purpose. It burns with a bright, clear flame, and 
throws out a considerable heat. 


3/0 flint's NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XVI. 


Midway between the preceding ones and the fruit-trees 
stands the elm, partaking of the nature of the former in its 
wood, and being akin to the latter in the friendship which it 
manifests for the vine. 8 The Greeks distinguish two varieties of 
this tree : the mountain 9 elm, w r hich is the larger of the two, 
and that of the plains, which is more shrubby. Italy gives 
the name of " Atinia" 10 to the more lofty kinds, and gives the 
preference to those which are of a dry nature and will not 
grow in damp localities. Another variety is the Gallic elm, 11 
and a third, the Italian, 12 with leaves lying closer together, and 
springing in greater numbers from a single stalk. A fourth 
kind is the wild elm. The Atinia does not produce any 
samara, 13 that being the name given to the seed of the elm. 
All the elms will grow from slips or cuttings, and all of them, 
with the exception of the Atinia, may be propagated from 



Having now made mention of the more remarkable trees, it 
remains for me to state some general facts connected with 
them all. The cedar, the larch, the torch-tree, and the other 
resinous trees prefer mountainous localities : u the same is 
the case also with the aquifolia, the box, the holm-oak, the 
juniper, the terebinth, the poplar, the wild mountain-ash, and 

8 Although (in common, too, with other trees) it is used as a support for 
the vine, that does not any the more make it of the same nature as the 

9 The Ulmus cffusa of Willdenow ; the Ulmus montana of Smith : Flor. 

10 The Ulmus campestris of Linnseus ; the Ulmus marita of other be- 
tanists, n The ordinary elm, Fee thinks. 

:2 A variety of the Ulmus campestris, probably. 

13 This name is still preserved by botanists. Pliny is incorrect in saying 
that the large elm produces no seed, the only difference being that the seed 
is smaller than in the other kinds. Columella, B. v. c. 6, contradicts the 
statement here made by Pliny, but says that it appears to be sterile, in 
comparison with the others. 

14 The Tinas maritima of Linnaeus, which produces the greater part of 
the resins used in France, is found, however, in great abundance in the 
fiat country of the Landes. 


the yoke-elm. 15 On the Apennines there is also found a shrub 
known as the "cotinus," 16 famous for imparting to cloth a 
purple colour like that of the murex. The fir" the robur, the 
chesnut, the lime, the holm-oak, and the cornel will grow 
equally well on mountain or in valley; while the maple, 17 the 
ash, the service, the linden, and the cherry, more particularly 
prefer a watery spot on the slope of a hilly declivity. It is 
not often that we see the plum, the pomegranate, the olive, 
the walnut, the mulberry, or the elder, growing on an elevated 
site : the cornel, too, the hazel, the quercus, the wild ash, the 
maple, the ash, the beech, and the yoke-elm, descend to the 
plains; wdiile the elm, the apple, the pear, the laurel, the 
myrtle, the blood-red 18 shrub, the holm-oak, and the brooms 19 
that are employed in dyeing cloths, all of them aspire to a 
more elevated locality. 

The sorb, 20 and even still more the birch, 21 are fond of a 
cold site ; this last is a native of Gaul, of singular whiteness 
and slender shape, and rendered terrible as forming the fasces 
of the magistracy. Prom its flexibility it is employed also in 
making circlets and the ribs of panniers. In Gaul, 22 too, they 
extract a bitumen from it by boiling. To a cold site, also, 
belongs the thorn, which affords the most auspicious torches 23 

15 On the contrary, the yoke-elm, or horn-beam, grows almost exclusively 
on the plains ; and the same with tiie cornel and the poplar. 

16 The Rhus cotinus of Linnaeus, the fustic. See B. xiii. c. 41. This, 
however, imparts a yellow colour, while Pliny speaks of a purple. It has 
heen asserted, however, that the roots of it produce a fine red. There is 
no tree in Europe that produces a purple for dyeing. 

17 The maple, the ash, and the service-tree, are as often found in the 
plains as on the hills. 

18 See c. 43 f and B. xxiv. c. 43. The Cornus sanguinea of Linnaeus, 
the blood-red cornel ; the branches of which are red in the winter, and the 
fruit filled with a blood-red juice. This is probably the same shrub as the 
male cornel, mentioned further on by Pliny. 

19 The Genista tinctoria of Linnseus, or "dyers'" broom. 

20 Or "service-tree," the Sorbus domestica of Linnaeus. It thrives just 
as well in a warm locality as a cold one. 

21 The Betula alba of Linnaeus. It was an object of terror not only 
in the hands of the Roman lictor, but in those of the pedagogue also, 
and is still to some extent. Hence it was formerly nicknamed " Arbor 
sapientiae," the " tree of wisdom." 

22 This is no longer done in France, but it is in Russia, where they ex- 
tract from it an empyreumatic oil, which is used in preparing Russia leather, 
and which imparts to it its agreeahle smell. 

23 Beys, both of whose parents were surviving, used to carry before the 

B B 2 

372 plots:' S NATURAL HISTORY. [Book XVI. 

of all for the nuptial ceremony ; from the circumstance, as 
Massurius assures us, that the shepherds, on the occasion of 
the rape of the Sabine women, made their torches of the wood 
of this tree : at the present day, however, the woods of the 
yoke-elm and the hazel are more generally employed for this 



The cypress, the walnut, the chesnut, and the laburnum, 24 
are averse to water. This last tree is also a native of the 
Alps, and far from generally known : the wood is hard and 
white, 25 and the flowers, which are a cubit 26 in length, no bee 
will ever touch. The shrub, too, known as Jupiter's beard, 27 
manifests an equal dislike to water : it is often clipped, and is 
employed in ornamental gardening, being of a round, bushy 
form, with a silvery leaf. The willow, the alder, the poplar, 28 
the siler, 29 and the privet, 30 so extensively employed for making 
tallies, 31 will only grow in damp, watery places ; which is the 

bride a torch of white thorn. This thorn was, not improbably the " Cra- 
taegus oxyacantha" of Linnseus, which bears a white flower. See B. xxiv. 

24 The Cytisus laburnum of Linnaeus, also known as " false ebony," still 
a native of the Alps. 

25 But blackish in the centre; whence its name of false ebony. 
25 Meaning the clusters of the flowers. 

27 The Anthyllis barba Jovis of modern botanists. The leaves have 
upon them a silvery down, whence the name " argyrophylla," given to it 
by Msench. 

2 § But in c. 30., he says that the poplar grows on hilly or mountainous 


29 This tree has not been satisfactorily identified ; but Fee is of opinion 
that it is probably a variety of the willow, the Salix vitellina of Linnaeus. 
Snrengel thinks that it is the Salix capraea. 

* 3 <> The Ligustrum vulgare of Linnaeus. It has black fruit and a white 
flower, and is rendered famous by the lines of Virgil— Eel. ii. 17 : 
" formose puer, nimium ne crede colori ; 
Alba ligustra cadunt, vaccinia nigra leguntur." 
It is evidently this juxtaposition that has prompted Pliny to mention the 
v.iccinium in the succeeding passage. In B. xii. c. 51, and B. xxiv. c. 45, 
Plinv seems inclined to confound this shrub with the Cyprus, the Lawsonia 
inermis of Linnaeus, the Henna of the east, a totally different plant. 

n Wooden tallies used by public officers in keeping their accounts. They 
were employed till the middle ages. 

Chap. 33] THE RHODODENDRON. 373 

case also with the vaccinium, 32 grown in Italy for drugging our 
slaves, 33 and in Gaul for the purpose of dyeing the garments of 
slaves a purple colour. All those trees 34 which are common 
to the mountains and the plains, grow to a larger size, and are 
of more comely appearance when grown on the plains, while 
those found on the mountains have a better wood and more 
finely veined, with the exception of the apple and the pear. 


In addition to these particulars, some of the trees lose their 
leaves, while others, again, are evergreens. Before, however, 
we treat of this distinction, it will be necessary first to touch 
upon another. There are some trees that are altogether of a 
wild nature, while there are others, again, that are more 
civilized, such being the names 35 by which man has thought 
fit to distinguish the trees. Indeed, these last, which by t'h